Weeping Willow

Students reflect on the major oil drilling project


Creative Commons

Oil being drilled on an artificial island of Alaska’s Beaufort Sea in 2017. The Willow project is the largest-scale oil drilling project to be proposed on United States federal land.

Sofia Kozlova, Social Media Editor

On Monday, the Biden administration approved an oil drilling project in Alaska. ConocoPhillips estimates that it will produce approximately 180,000 barrels of oil per day on the site which will account for 1.5% of total oil production in America.

“I think that politicians need to start putting the environment at the forefront of the decisions they make,” sophomore Ella Andrzejek said. “I understand that there might be an economic benefit but at the same time, we need to keep our planet a habitable place,”

There are different viewpoints on the topic, according to WGAL. Some say that the drilling could fully support the indigenous communities in Alaska financially, but environmentalists argue that the impact on our earth is too great.

“I believe that we are now at a place where we have enough technology that we should not be relying on fossil fuels for all of our energy,” Biology teacher Daniel Raffa said. “In this day and age, we could be making our main source of energy by solar or wind energy — and although it would be a transition, it would be extremely beneficial,”

America is the top producer of oil in the world, but it is also the world’s largest consumer of it, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Alaska is the fourth-largest producer of oil in America — Texas is the first. Texas accounts for 43% of the total mined oil.

“I think the people in Alaska who are most negatively affected should have been taken into account more,” sophomore Kendyle Silver said. “Although oil is important to the American economy, the dangers of mining it on our health really scare me,”

The pollutants that come from mining the earth pose different health issues for people. Ways individuals can take steps for a safer future for the planet are becoming educated on the problems within the environment, having conversations with peers, and demanding that local leaders fight against these developments, according to Raffa.

“The large amounts of pollutants are affecting humans in negative ways for example we are seeing much hotter days and flooding which pose threats to human life and we’re also seeing higher rates of asthma within individuals,” Raffa said. “We are lucky to live in California which is paving the way in renewable energy and climate-conscious solutions but there is still work to be done,”

The Biden administration only approved that 3 of 5 proposed drilling sites be utilized, reducing the project’s land to 40% of the originally suggested territory. Though the Interior Department required the project to be scaled down before approval, many are still very unhappy with the decision, and 2 lawsuits have been filed, according to CNN.

“I try to live a sustainable life but it is often difficult when large corporations counteract the work that citizens make for the environment,” Andrzejek said. “I am hopeful that our generation will bring change through policy and law but I am losing hope in our current government’s ability to combat climate change.”