Climate radicals pressure Biden to reject critical Alaska oil project

Climate radicals pressure Biden to reject critical Alaska oil project

Climate radicals pressure Biden to reject critical Alaska oil project

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A social media campaign urging President Joe Biden to reject an oil development project on Alaska's remote North Slope has rapidly gained steam on TikTok and other platforms.

The #StopWillow campaign has garnered more than 50 million views and counting, and was trending in the top 10 topics on TikTok, as users voiced their concerns that Biden wouldn't stick to his campaign promises to curtail oil drilling.

At the same time, Alaska Native leaders support ConocoPhillips Alaska's proposed Willow project saying it would bring much-needed jobs and billions of dollars in taxes and mitigation funds to the vast, snow- and ice-covered region nearly 600 miles from Anchorage.

The Alaska Native mayors of two North Slope communities — Asisaun Toovak, of Utqiaġvik, the nation’s northernmost community formerly known as Barrow, and Chester Ekak, of Wainwright, about 90 miles (144 kilometers) to the southwest — penned an opinion piece for the Anchorage Daily News in support of the project.

In the debate, “the voices of the people whose ancestral homeland is most impacted have largely been ignored," they wrote. "We know our lands and our communities better than anyone, and we know that resource development and our subsistence way of life are not mutually exclusive.”

Alaska’s congressional delegation — including Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola, who is the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress — backs the project and met with top officials at the White House last week.

ConocoPhillips Alaska said Willow, one of the biggest oil fields to be proposed in Alaska in decades, could produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day, or about 1.5% of the total U.S. oil production. It could also help fill the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline, which is running at about a fourth of the peak capacity in the 1980s, when more than 2 million barrels a day flowed through the line from the North Slope to Valdez for shipment.

In oil-friendly Alaska, there have been visible shows of support for the project.

The Alaska Legislature unanimously passed a resolution last month in support of the project. Local governments and Alaska Native corporations on the North Slope also back the project, and union leaders — a major Biden constituency — support it.

The Alaska Native mayors said in their opinion piece that the project is expected to generate $1.25 billion in taxes for the North Slope Borough to pay for basic services like education, fire protection and law enforcement. Another $2.5 billion is expected for a grant program that will provide other improvements like a new recreation center for youth and community programs in Wainwright.

“It’s time for Washington, D.C., to listen to the voices of Alaska Native communities on the North Slope and approve Willow without further delay or deferral,” Toovak and Ekak wrote.