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Protect Public Lands from Oil Pollution

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

The Willow Project poses a significant threat to the Arctic ecosystem, wildlife and the traditional subsistence practices of Native American communities. Take action!


The federal government has granted approval for the controversial Willow Project, an oil drilling project in Alaska1. The location of the project is within the National Petroleum Reserve, approximately 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

The project is expected to produce almost 600 million barrels of crude oil over the next 30 years2. Although the department denied two of the five drill sites proposed by ConocoPhillips, Alaska's largest crude oil producer, the project could produce almost a quarter of a billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions — equal to adding nearly two million cars to the roads each year3.

The oil industry and Alaskan lawmakers had urged President Biden to approve the project, citing its energy production potential and its ability to create jobs4. The decision was also applauded by Nagruk Harcharek, who is the president of the Voice of Arctic Iñupiat, a nonprofit organization that works towards addressing issues impacting the North Slope Iñupiat. Harcharek expressed his belief that the decision would expand the tax base responsible for supporting the communities residing on the North Slope5.

However, environmentalists and some Democrats see the approval of the Willow Project as a step in the wrong direction for important climate and environmental goals. The Sierra Club's executive director, Ben Jealous, said that the harm the project will cause "may not ever be able to be undone. This is the equivalent of putting dozens and dozens of coal-fired power plants back online. It makes it almost impossible to understand how the administration will ever meet its promises to reduce emissions from public lands6."

Although the Interior Department announced that ConocoPhillips would relinquish rights to around 68,000 acres of its existing leases in the petroleum reserve7, most of which are close to the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area, a major habitat for caribou and other wildlife that Native communities rely on, the Willow Project still poses an environmental nightmare8. The project would release enormous amounts of carbon emissions that would contribute to climate change, damage the Arctic ecosystem and the wildlife that depends on it9. It is also an environmental justice issue, as it would threaten the livelihoods and cultures of Native American communities and their traditional subsistence practices10.

We need to urge the federal government to revoke the approval of the project and put a stop to the unnecessary destruction of one of America's most pristine and unique ecosystems. Sign the petition and stand in solidarity with the Native American communities and environmental activists and protect the Arctic wilderness from devastation. Take action now!

More on this issue:

  1. Matthew Daly and Chris Megerian, Associated Press (14 March 2023), "Biden OKs Alaska oil project, draws ire of environmentalists."
  2. U.S. Department of the Interior (1 February 2023), "Interior Department Issues Statement on Proposed Willow Project."
  3. Lisa Friedman, The New York Times (13 March 2023), "How Biden Got From ‘No More Drilling’ to Backing a Huge Project in Alaska."
  4. Matthew Daly, Chris Megerian, Fortune (13 March 2023), "Biden outrages climate activists with green light for major Willow oil project in Alaska."
  5. KINY (11 March 2023), "A statement on the Willow Project from Nagruk Harcharek, President of the Voice of Arctic Iñupiat."
  6. Ian Brickey, Sierra Club (13 March 2023), "Sierra Club Statement on White House Final Decision on Willow Oil and Gas Project."
  7. U.S. Department Of The Interior, EE Online (14 March 2023), "Interior Department Substantially Reduces Scope of Willow Project."
  8. Tim Woody, The Wilderness Society (1 February 2023), "MEMO: President Biden must stop climate-threatening Willow oil project."
  9. Steve Turton, International Science Council (6 March 2021), "Climate explained: why is the Arctic warming faster than other parts of the world?"
  10. Ella Nilsen, CNN (7 March 2023), "What to know about the controversial Willow oil drilling project in Alaska."
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The Petition:

To the United States Secretary of the Interior,

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about the continued leasing of public lands to oil and mining companies. As Americans who care about the environment and the future of our planet, we urge you to take action and put an end to this destructive practice.

The leasing of public lands for oil and mining has had devastating effects on our environment, including habitat destruction, air and water pollution, and the release of greenhouse gases. These activities also contribute to climate change, which threatens our health, safety, and economic well-being.

We call on you to end the leasing of public lands to oil and mining companies immediately. We urge you to prioritize the protection of our natural resources and the health and well-being of our communities over the profits of a few corporations.

Instead of leasing public lands for oil and mining, we ask that you prioritize investments in renewable energy and other sustainable industries that will create jobs, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and protect our environment.

We believe that these measures are necessary to preserve our natural resources, protect our wildlife, and combat climate change.

The future of our planet is at stake, and we cannot afford to continue down the path of environmental destruction. We urge you to take bold action to protect our public lands and our future.

Sincerely,

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Signatures: