The huge oil and gas drilling project in Alaska that was met with significant resistance from environmental groups has been given the go-ahead by the President of the United States, Joe Biden.
ConocoPhillips, the firm that is driving the Willow project forward, claims that it would result in thousands of new employment and local investment.
In contrast, the idea to spend $8 billion (£6.6 billion) was met with a deluge of online opposition in recent weeks, most notably from young activists on the platform TikTok.
The potential adverse effects on the environment and the animals involved led some people to advocate that it should be stopped.
It is the greatest oil development in the region for decades and could generate up to 180,000 barrels of oil each and every day. It is located on the isolated North Slope of Alaska.
This means that it will emit up to 278 million metric tonnes of CO2e over the course of its 30-year lifetime, which is the equivalent of adding two million automobiles to American highways each and every year, according to estimates provided by the US Bureau of Land Management.
A carbon dioxide equivalent, or CO2e, is a unit that is used to indicate the impact on the climate that is caused by all greenhouse gases combined, as if they were all emitted as carbon dioxide.
An attempt at reaching a middle ground with those opposed to the Willow fracking project resulted in the announcement made on Monday that the project will be restricted to only three of the five drill locations that were previously intended.
In addition, the permission comes just one day after restrictions were imposed by the Biden administration on oil and gas development in 16 million acres of Alaska and the Arctic Ocean.
Greens had contended that Willow is incompatible with President Biden’s vows to lead on climate action, but they were proven wrong.
There were over one million letters of objection sent to the White House, and over three million people signed a petition on Change.org demanding that the Willow programme be terminated.
On Monday, an environmental charity known as the Sierra Club issued a statement in which they stated that the proposed action “is the wrong decision and will be a disaster for species, lands, communities, and our climate.”
An Iuipat activist from Alaska named Sonny Ahk led the opposition to the Willow development project. He argued that the project would “lock in Arctic oil and gas extraction for another 30 years and catalyse future oil expansion in the Arctic.”
In his words, “while CEOs from out of state take in record profits, local folks are left to deal with the adverse repercussions of being surrounded by enormous drilling operations.”
Nonetheless, all three legislators who represent Alaska in Congress supported for the project’s approval, hailing it as a much-needed investment in the villages that are located in the region. One of these legislators is a Democrat.
They suggested that it would also assist enhance domestic energy output, which would in turn help reduce the country’s dependency on oil imported from other countries.
On Monday, the CEO of ConocoPhillips, Ryan Lance, said that this choice was “the right decision for Alaska and our nation.”
He stated that the United States energy behemoth, which is already Alaska’s largest producer of crude oil, will improve energy security, provide excellent union jobs, and bring benefits to Alaska Native communities.