Groups Rally at White House to Protest Willow Oil and Gas Project

Environmental and Climate Groups, Advocates, and Activists Hold Rally in Front of White House, Urging Biden to Protect Arctic Health, Climate Justice by Rejecting ConocoPhillips’ Willow Oil and Gas Project

Environmental Groups Delivered Over 100,000 Comments to the White House in Opposition to a Massive Oil And Gas Project in America’s Western Arctic

WASHINGTON – Today, the Alaska Wilderness League, The Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Evergreen Action, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, SILA, Sunrise Movement American University, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Zero Hour, and others delivered over 100,000 comments of concern to the White House in opposition to ConocoPhillips’ dirty and dangerous Willow project and rallied at Lafayette Square to demand the Biden Administration meet its climate goals and reject ConocoPhillips’ Willow project. 

Currently under review by President Biden, this massive oil and gas project in America’s Western Arctic would emit 287 million metric tons of carbon pollution, equivalent to emissions produced by 76 coal plants running for a year. A recent updated estimate of the social cost of carbon from the Environmental Protection Agency found that the social cost of Willow’s carbon emissions would be an astonishing $79 BILLION or more. 

“This is a make-or-break moment for President Biden on climate,” said Kristen Miller, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League. “Willow poses a clear and present danger to climate security and biodiversity resources, and will impact all Americans. Alaska’s western Arctic cannot afford to sacrifice the critical wildlife and subsistence resources – or to bear the risk to our climate that Willow would cause. The President can show true climate leadership by stopping Willow, before it’s too late.”

If approved, the project will bulldoze through critical wildlife habitats in the nearby town of Nuiqsut, disrupt migratory paths, and endanger the food security of communities that depend on subsistence resources. 

“Willow is a disaster in the making for local communities and the global climate,” said Karlin Itchoak, The Wilderness Society’s senior regional director for Alaska. “It is essential for BLM to recognize Willow’s destructive potential and prevent it from moving forward. No other oil and gas project has greater potential to undermine the Biden administration’s climate goals.”

“Allowing the Willow oil drilling project to move forward would undermine President Biden’s commitments on climate and environmental justice,” said Evergreen Action Policy Lead Mattea Mrkusic. “We know that Willow’s harmful pollution would accelerate climate change and threaten the health of Alaska Native communities, which is why more than 100,000 people are submitting comments today to oppose this disaster in the making. President Biden should reject the Willow project.”

Since taking office, President Biden has vowed to halve America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 – a bold climate promise that the Willow project would make harder to fulfill. According to research by Earthjustice, Evergreen Action, and the Center for American Progress, Willow’s expected carbon emissions would undermine the benefits of recent climate victories and harm the ability of President Biden to achieve his climate goals.

“The Biden administration has taken great strides toward strong action on climate. Allowing this ‘carbon bomb’ to move forward could undo much of this progress,” said Ellen Montgomery, Environment America’s public lands campaign director. “With renewable energy on the rise, the last thing we need is ConocoPhillips breaking ground on a 30-year oil project. In 30 years, we shouldn’t need that oil and it’s ridiculous to destroy pristine habitat now.”

“We should not be expanding our fossil fuel footprint in the Arctic – period,” said Nicole Whittington-Evans, director of Defenders of Wildlife’s Alaska program. “The Willow project threatens denning polar bears, people that call the Arctic home and is at odds with the administration’s commitment to address climate change.”

“The overwhelming unpopularity of this disastrous and massive oil and gas project is clearer than ever,” said Leah Donahey, federal advocacy campaigns director for League of Conservation Voters. “Willow’s emissions would have catastrophic global impacts – producing the equivalent pollution of 76 coal plants running for a year – and do irreversible damage to the sensitive Arctic landscape that local communities rely on for their livelihoods. Food security, physical and mental health, and culture and traditions are all on the line for the Indigenous communities that will be affected if this project isn’t stopped. President Biden: say no to Willow and keep moving us forward on climate.”

“President Biden must stop the Willow Project from moving forward to prevent irreparable environmental harm,” said Raena Garcia, fossil fuels and lands campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “If built, Willow is projected to add over 280 million metric tons of carbon to our atmosphere. ConocoPhillips and Big Oil cannot be allowed to threaten our public health and environment by exploiting the Arctic with their dirty business. Biden must stop the Willow Project and all attempts by Big Oil looking to profit at the expense of our public lands and waters.”

“New fossil fuel industrialization is the last thing we need while facing climate catastrophe,” said Sonia Ahkivgak, social outreach coordinator, Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic. “Willow poses a dire threat to the Arctic communities and the Arctic, a region warming four to five times faster than the rest of the world. While ConocoPhillips is raking in record profits, rural Alaskans are forced to pay extreme prices on food and daily necessities, while also facing disproportionately high rates of chronic illnesses like cancer and asthma. There must come a point where human health, food security, environmental justice, and a functioning ecosystem come before corporate profit. We need a Just Transition from an extractive industry that has held communities as economic hostages for decades.”

“The Willow Project proposed by ConocoPhillips would not only threaten the future of the planet by fueling climate change, but it would threaten the health and well-being of communities in the Western Arctic,” said Maddie Young, communications director for Sunrise Movement at American University. “We are calling on President Biden and the Department of the Interior to respect the demands of those that will have to face the pollution and destruction that would be caused by this project. This administration has the power to prevent the Willow Project from going any farther.”

“New fossil fuels are incompatible with a livable future.  President Biden needs to decide whether he is on the side of industry or future generations,” said Magnolia Mead, director of Organizing at Zero Hour. “The ConocoPhillips Willow project would lock us into a decades-long dependence on fossil fuels and devastate the Arctic ecosystem, an area already warming 4 times faster than the rest of the planet.  Youth turned out to elect President Biden and Democrats in the last two elections because of their promises to take action on the climate crisis and usher in a new era of renewable energy.  Those promises are empty if the administration approves the Willow project.”

Communications contact: Brittany Miller, [email protected], (202) 222-0746

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