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Frontline and Climate Activists Gather at White House One Final Time Before the Biden Administration’s Decision on Willow Drops
(Washington, DC) — Today, frontline, climate, and Indigenous activists rallied outside the White House, urging the Biden administration and the Department of the Interior to stop the dangerous Willow Drilling Project. Supporters stood together in the rain during the rally led by Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic (SILA), a group of Indigenous activists from the Arctic who have been leading the fight to stop Willow.
The Biden administration is expected to issue its final decision as soon as March 6th and calls to stop the project have been growing rapidly. On social media, #StopWillow has become a top trend, amassing a total of more than 200M views and 18k videos across platforms, putting pressure on Biden at a pivotal moment in his climate career.
“President Biden continues to address climate change during high profile speeches and events but his actions are contradictory. The Willow Master Development Plan would double the amount of emissions that he had planned to reduce, nullifying any efforts by this administration to combat climate change,” said Siqiniq Maupin, Executive Director of SILA.“He has the power to stop this climate disaster and be on the right side of history, he must stop the Willow project now.”
Proponents of the Willow project argue that the project would help short-term global energy markets and offset high gas prices. But ConocoPhillips’ own projections show that oil production would not occur for at least six years following its approval, moving the country further from a rapidly accelerating clean energy future and workforce, while doing nothing for the current price of gas.
“We know that the jobs will go to the outsiders, and the jobs given to the local Indigenous will be only temporary. It pains me … the health of our people, the joblessness, the inability to find the caribou and the fish, that our land will surfer by being covered up with oil, and our children will suffer as always happens when oil is extracted, said Nutaaq Simmonds of Utqiagvik, Alaska.
The massive oil drilling development in Alaska’s western Arctic threatens wildlife, the climate, and the way of life of local communities. The project is expected to emit 278 million metric tons of climate pollution over the next 30 years – that’s equivalent to the annual emissions from 74 coal plants, one-third of all remaining U.S. plants. Approving this project stands in stark contrast to Biden’s climate commitments and campaign promises that voters took to the polls.
“We all know someone who has died from a cancer that is the size of a pinhead,” said Karlin Nageak Itchoak of Utqiagvik and Nome, Alaska.“We know that size is not a true representation of impact with development.”
As groups rallied, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) led their colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden calling on his administration to reject ConocoPhillips’ Willow.
“Giving ConocoPhillips the green light on the Willow project would not just be a disaster in its own right—it would pave the way for even more oil and gas drilling in the area in the future,” said Representative Raúl Grijalva. “The Biden administration still has a chance to make the right decision to shut down this dangerous project and send the message that climate change, Alaska Natives’ and local residents’ lives, and wildlife matter more than helping Big Oil rake in even more record-breaking profits.”
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