On March 13, the Biden administration announced approval of ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project, the largest fossil fuel extraction project on federal lands in history. It is expected to produce five hundred and seventy-five million barrels of oil over the next thirty years. Burning that oil will result in the emission of about ten million tons of carbon dioxide per year, or some three hundred million tons over the life of the project. The project will wipe out the emissions cuts provided by all renewable energy developments over the next decade, adding the equivalent of two million new gasoline cars to the roads.
The Laborers, the Electrical Workers, and the Alaska Federation of Labor AFL-CIO cheered the decision. However, The Willow Project directly violates the conditions necessary to avoid the worst aspects of climate disaster. It also directly violates President Biden’s own climate goals. An analysis by the Center for American Progress finds that the carbon emissions expected from Willow would cancel out the carbon reductions in the president’s goals of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and permitting 25 gigawatts of solar, onshore wind, and geothermal energy on public lands by 2025. The Willow project will double the carbon pollution that all renewable progress on public lands and waters would avoid by 2030.