It’s time for an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

President Biden and Congress must lead the charge to defeat the climate crisis and build a thriving, just and inclusive clean energy future. Join our work to help make it happen.

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It’s time for an all-out national mobilization to defeat the climate crisis.

President Biden and Congress must lead the charge to defeat the climate crisis and build a thriving, just and inclusive clean energy future. Join our work to help make it happen.

Stop the Willow Project: ConocoPhillips’ Disastrous Plan to Drill the Western Arctic

ConocoPhillips announced today that they raked in a staggering $4.53 billion in earnings this quarter – a 90% surge compared to this time last year.

Courtesy of Protect the Arctic.

The Arctic is rapidly warming. The permafrost is melting. And ConocoPhillips, Alaska’s largest crude oil producer, stands to make a killing – while they pour fuel onto the fire.

ConocoPhillips announced today that they raked in a staggering $4.53 billion in earnings this quarter – a 90% surge compared to this time last year. But even while the deadly costs of the climate crisis mount, and the need to move off of fossil fuels entirely is increasingly understood by leaders around the world, ConocoPhillips won’t back down on their dangerous proposal to build the Willow Project, a massive oil drilling operation in Alaska’s Western Arctic. 

Big Oil is cashing in at the expense of our climate, communities, and public lands. Now, it’s time to tell President Biden to reject ConocoPhillips’ proposed Willow Project once and for all.

Remind me, what’s the Willow Project? 

The Willow Master Development Plan, better known as the Willow Project, is a 30-year plan by ConocoPhillips to drill in sensitive Alaskan ecosystems near Indigenous communities. 

Back in 2020, the Trump administration approved this huge and controversial oil project. Not long after, ConocoPhillips told investors that the development plan could be “the next great Alaska [oil] hub.” But frontline leaders like Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic and environmentalists saw ConocoPhillips’ proposal for what it was: an environmental injustice and a climate disaster. 

(Need to catch up? Read our blog that outlines four reasons why the Willow Project must be stopped – from local residents voicing concern about health impacts to the project risking caribou habitat.)

Then in 2021, a federal district court judge threw out the project’s Trump-era permits, citing issues with the environmental analysis. But just a week after the ruling, ConocoPhillips asked BLM Alaska to move ahead with the controversial oil drilling permitting process, arguing that the flaws in the environmental analysis were “fixable”. And this July, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a new draft supplemental environmental impact statement for the Willow Project. This proposal would include five drill sites, more than 250 wells, a network of gravel roads, and – get this – at least one airstrip.

That brings us to today: BLM’s public comment period has officially closed, and it’s time for the federal government to make a final decision.

The good news is that the Biden administration has the authority to reject the Willow Project, full stop. BLM can simply select the “No Action Alternative” and put an end to this proposed oil drilling site altogether  – but to ensure they do, they need to feel the heat. 

Take Action Now

Need more convincing? Here’s how ConocoPhillip’s Willow Project rakes in profit at the expense of the climate crisis and communities: 

ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project pours fuel onto the fire of the climate crisis

Let’s be clear: the Willow Project would be a climate disaster. 

Over the next three decades, the Willow Project could pump between 278 and 287 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution into our atmosphere. That’s equivalent to the annual emissions of 74 to 76 new coal fired power plants – or about a third of all coal plants across the country. 

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But the BLM’s draft supplemental environmental impact statement failed to analyze whether the huge amount of climate pollution locked-in by Willow would be compatible with President Biden’s national climate goals, which commit to slashing greenhouse gas pollution by 50-52% by 2030. 

And spoiler alert? Climate scientists are already raising the alarm that approving new oil fields like the Willow Project would spell disaster.

Just this week, a flurry of expert reports called for a “rapid transformation of societies” to meet global climate goals. The Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) released a report that comprehensively reviewed all of the feasible scenarios of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Their conclusions were crystal clear – and damning: “Developing any new oil and gas fields is incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” 

Put differently, developing new oil infrastructure like the Willow Project is at odds with a safer climate future. 

These new findings mirror – and strengthen – the conclusions of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) landmark Net Zero by 2050 report, which said that there’s no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply in their net-zero pathway. At the same time, this new IISD report and the IEA’s 2022 World Energy Outlook call for a transformational scale-up of clean energy, including the deployment of solar and wind capacity. 

As Big Oil rakes in soaring profits, the Biden administration has a responsibility to focus on transitioning to homegrown, clean energy alternatives – and break our dependence on fossil fuel projects like Willow that only fuel climate disaster. 

ConocoPhillips’ March gas leakage shows the Willow Project is a real threat to communities and climate. 

Developing new oil projects in Alaska’s Arctic is a climate disaster and an environmental injustice – and already, at least one uncontrolled gas leak has happened on ConocoPhillips’ watch this year. 

Back in March, a gas leak started at one of ConocoPhillips’ pre-existing facilities, eight miles north of the Alaska Native Village of Nuiqsut. 

Over the first five days of the leak, it spewed approximately 7.2 million cubic feet of natural gas into the atmosphere. That’s roughly the annual carbon emissions of over 3,000 cars. And it took almost a month for the leak to be completely plugged. Some residents of the nearby village of Nuiqsut experienced headaches, breathing problems, and nausea – and raised their voices to fight back. This isn’t the first time communities like Nuiqsut have been harmed by oil extraction – and it likely won’t be the last if drilling continues. (You can read more about this incident in recent articles published in Grist and The Washington Post.)

Here’s where it gets even more twisted. Thawing permafrost played a key role in the gas leak. When ConocoPhillips submitted an incident report to the state, it outlined how the heat created by the injection of drilling fluids underground thawed the permafrost layer and brought gas to the surface. Around 50 neighboring wells on the same pad also experienced this thawing process, too. 

You read that right: ConocoPhillips admitted that thawing permafrost (caused directly and indirectly by drilling) played a role in the gas leak. And remember when we said the Arctic was already warming four times faster than the rest of the world?

Concerningly, BLM’s draft supplemental environmental impact statement did not adequately analyze the risk of future gas leaks and the impacts this leak event had on neighboring communities, as pointed out in a recent blog by Center for American Progress.

Here’s what you can do

Right now, BLM is making its final decision on the Willow Master Development Plan draft supplemental environmental impact statement. Fossil fuel companies like ConocoPhillips put the interests of polluter profit over the climate and well-being of local communities. 

Tell President Biden that it’s time to transition to clean energy and to reject ConocoPhillips’ dirty Willow Project.

Urge President Biden: Reject ConocoPhillips’ Dirty Willow Project

Urge President Biden to direct the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management to deny the Willow Project permit.