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The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye June 2024 Issue
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The latest climate uproar: The Willow Project

©HAWKEYE image credit: Charli Gilchrist
© HAWKEYE Charli Gilchrist

During President Joe Biden’s early presidency, he announced efforts to reduce the amount of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions in the air. But now, many are questioning his motives along with the people on his team as they put the Willow Project in motion.

The Willow Project is a $6 billion oil drilling project put in place by ConocoPhillips, planning to place an oil drilling center in Alaska to extract 500 million barrels of petroleum oil. This is equivalent to 76 coal-fired power plants operating in a single year, or adding 2 million cars to the road.

“That’s up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day,” ConocoPhillips claimed. That’s 1.5% of the U.S. total oil production.

The project will take place in the eastern tip of Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, covering a space of 60,000 acres, or roughly the size of Indiana.

The reaction to the Biden Administration’s final decision has sparked mixed reactions. The controversial decision has made many think about the long-lasting effects to the environment when the project will be put in place.

This project will produce enough oil to release 250 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the next 30 years, making climate change almost impossible to reverse and directly going against President Biden’s claim to end oil drilling on federal land. In his campaign promises, it was ensured that the U.S. would achieve a 100% clean energy economy by 2050. Now that the Willow Project is approved, that promise will be almost impossible to fulfill.

In a press briefing on March 6, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about Biden’s thought process on approving the Willow Project when it contradicted his claim of ending fossil fuel usage. 

“The president did meet with the Alaska delegation last week at the White House. He always appreciates speaking and meeting with the full delegation and understanding what their concerns are. So, I’ll leave it there,” Jean-Pierre said. “And when it comes to that specific decision, that’s something that the secretary of interior is going to make, so I’m not going to get ahead of where she’s going to be. But the president has met with the delegation, and I’m just going to leave it there.”

The department of interior has the responsibility of managing public lands, minerals, national parks, and wildlife, and is trusted to respect Indigenous tribes and Native Alaskans, according to USAGov.

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In an earlier interview she stated, “So, I don’t have anything to share on that. That’s a decision that’s going to be made by the secretary of interior. That’s for her to decide. I would refer you to a decision that is made by the department of interior. That’s her decision to make.”

Environmental activists such as Alex Haraus, Elise Joshi and Alaina Wood have been pushing to their followers through social media, asking them to do whatever they can to stop Biden from approving the Willow Project. 

So far, a Change.org petition has garnered over 3.4 million signatures against it. On top of that, there have also been over 2.5 million letters sent directly to the White House from people all over the country in opposition, but even through all of the requests, it was still approved.

“It’s a stupid decision, and he’s (President Biden) not really looking at the repercussions that it’s going to make, especially on the people who live there,” senior Henry Obare said. “Even if you don’t care about the planet, what about the people?”

In protest, many people have gone to social media to post and discuss their concerns. The #WillowProject has over 327 million views on the popular social media app TikTok, and continues to trend there and across other apps as more comes out about the project.

Many online are stating how inhumane and wrong this project is, showing videos about climate change and how it will affect the entire environment. Through this, the Change.org petition continues to gain more signatures as well as call into question and bring attention to the government and presidential decisions.

“I think this will affect our environment in really bad ways. With all the things people put out there it’s going to lead to a domino effect in the future and now,” Obare said.

The Biden Administration officially approved the Willow Project on March 13. Environmentalist groups such as EarthJustice reportedly filed a lawsuit against the Biden Administration on March 14 on behalf of all conservation groups trying to stop the Willow Project.

Biden also stated there would be efforts from his administration to restrict any offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic ocean, in effort to lower criticism after the news was publicized.

Biology and zoology teacher Jonathan Tong, when asked if he believes the government would treat that area differently if it was white people in the place of Indigenous peoples, said, “Absolutely.”

After everything that has happened, many feel the last hope for the Willow Project being shut down is the lawsuit from activist groups against the Biden Administration. 

More should be known in the coming weeks as the case progresses through the courts. 

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About the Contributors
Halle Connell
Halle Connell, Design Editor
Halle Connell has been working with and studying journalism for 3 years and has produced many well-received articles and videos to different school news outlets. She mainly focuses on world news and is very interested in political and social issues. She has worked with many students in the past to get opinions of the people and not just news anchors. Halle is very interested in social justice and working to educate the world on the topics many people are not willing to talk about. Halle plans to attend college to get a degree in journalism or psychology. She is currently studying French and hopes to study abroad in France one day.
J Gurney
J Gurney, Hawkeye Manager
J Gurney joined Journalism for the first time as a way to hang out with friends and have some fun. Over time, being on the journlism team, they learned much more about different ways to write and spread information, while also creating a tight-knit community with the other members. In photography, J does all sorts of different things, photography for sports, different school events, and will take any opportunity to take photos, if they can find the time. Currently J wants to go to a college to do something related to music. But there is still plenty of time to change that decision.
Charli Gilchrist
Charli Gilchrist, Tempo Co-Editor-in-Chief & Graphics Editor
Charli "Rain" Gilchrist (he/they) joined HSM in 2022, their freshman year to learn more about journalism and to continue from where they had left off in their role at the Brier Terrace middle school Bulldog Brief. They serve as a writer, graphic artist and graphics editor, and has recently taken on a major role in designing the TEMPO yearbook as well. In their free time, they usually enjoy studying clouds, listening to music, and scrolling through Pinterest. They plan on going to a university of the arts after graduation, but for now they can enjoy contributing to the school paper.
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