On February 7, the Bureau of Land Management announced a scoping comment period for development of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the Willow Master Development Plan, a huge network of oil and gas infrastructure proposed by Conoco-Phillips in Alaska’s Western Arctic. 

The US District Court ruled in August 2021 that the permits issued under the Trump administration did not adequately address the impacts the project would have if built. 

“Seeking input from the public on how this massive project would impact people is the right thing to do,” says Emily Sullivan, Arctic Program Manager at the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. “The previous administration’s approval was based on inadequate information and deliberate exclusion of local input. The court has recognized that failure to take into account the impacts of more major fossil fuel extraction in the heart of a region already experiencing climate crisis. Willow would be a step backwards, and we’re glad to see this comment period, as a sign that the agency is approaching this proposal with the attention it deserves.” 

The comment period ends March 9. 

 

How you can comment

 

Online through BLM’s website

 

By mail: 

222 W. 7th Avenue, Stop #13

Anchorage, Alaska  99513 

 

Some points to include in your comments

 

  • The Willow Project would be a climate disaster. Arctic Alaska is already warming at nearly three times the rate of the rest of the continent. Approving an oil and gas project that would add an estimated 250 million metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere would directly work against the administration’s climate goals. Considered alongside other proposed oil projects, like the Peregrine prospect to the south, Willow would contribute to unacceptable levels of emissions – both from construction, drilling, and eventual burning of fossil fuels. This would be in conflict with the Biden administration’s climate agenda. 

 

  • The Willow Project threatens food security. People in the region rely on the Teshekpuk Lake caribou herd for food, as well as birds, fish, and marine wildlife, which are all impacted by climate change. The Teshekpuk herd is especially vulnerable, as their relatively small range would be surrounded by infrastructure. Willow would further fragment their habitat, making this food source harder for hunters to access. 

 

  • The Western Arctic needs more protection from the fossil fuel industry, not less. This region supports some of the richest ecosystems in the world, hosting migratory birds from every corner of the planet, land and marine mammals including polar bears and bowhead whales, species already challenged by a warming world. If we are to maintain what remains of the Arctic as we know it, it’s time for more protective measures of this vitally important region, not treating it like an industrial sacrifice zone.  

 

For additional background: 

 

What else can you do? 

 

  • Share your comments on social media, and encourage your friends to weigh in as well.

 

  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper stating your reasons for opposing this project. Letters can be short and to the point: The Biden administration should not approve new oil and gas projects like Willow at this time in our climate crisis. Period.

 

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