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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Willow Project receives legal backlash from environmental groups

Julia Fusco

Climate activists made strides to halt progress on the Willow Project amid worsening environment and climate crisis in Alaska.

Recent initiatives to block the process of the Willow Project have been met with varying success. Lawsuits against the project have risen as an attempt to work against the project’s continuation.

On March 13, the Biden Administration signed off on the continuation of the Willow Project. This project is affiliated with oil company ConocoPhillips and is the extensive process of extracting oil from rural Alaska. It has been raising concerns amongst climate activists since its initial proposal during the Trump Administration.

Earthjustice, a environmental activist group, sued the Biden Administration just two days after the proposal was signed, according to their website. Earthjustice discussed the choice as the decision to enact “. . . habitat and climate destruction in the Western Arctic.”

Earthjustice took charge and filed their lawsuit with the Natural Resource Defense Council on behalf of other conservation groups. They claimed that the project’s proposition violated other acts and commitments made by the U.S. government to ensure environmental stability.

The law firm Trustees for Alaska took similar approaches to Earthjustice. With a swift course of action, they were able to make a statement the day after President Joe Biden signed off on the project. They pursued a lawsuit against the administration for actively violating several laws in the process of pursuing the oil drilling project.

The firm specifically targeted several other departments of the U.S. government, stating that the “lawsuit charges the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Interior with violating their respective duties under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act and the Endangered Species Act.”

These lawsuits intended to pursue justice by filing for preliminary injunction, which in turn would force the construction that would be contributing to the project to come to a halt for the foreseeable future.

This strategy was unsuccessful, as the federal Judge Sharon Gleason of the U.S. District Court of Alaska filed in favor of the Biden Administration and ConocoPhillips, furthering the construction taking place.

The court made this decision to allow construction to continue in these areas of Alaska, as these construction projects were not active oil drilling endeavors, according to CNN.

Both lawsuits attempted to refute Biden’s analysis of the climate impact that this initiative would bring. Biden’s administration had initially ruled that this project would not have major impacts on climate, which has since been proven untrue by scientists and other climate professionals.

The Willow Project is predicted to release 239 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over 30 years according to the Washington Post, which would have severe climate implications that were not acknowledged by the Biden administration when reviewing the proposal.

Earthjustice’s lawyers said decisions made by federal agencies “failed to consider how the increased greenhouse gas emissions from Willow may affect the survival and recovery of these ice-dependent species or their critical habitat.”

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About the Contributors
Julia Capraro, Editor-at-Large | she/her
Julia is a sophomore broadcast journalism and psychology major from Canton, Massachusetts. In addition to writing for the journal, she is President of Suffolk Visual Arts Club. She loves cooking, crochet and reading in her free time.
Julia Fusco, Graphics Editor | she/her
Julia is a senior from South Hamilton, Mass. majoring in media & film at Suffolk University. Julia is part of four student organizations and counting and is on the E-Board for three of them. When she isn't working at the Suffolk gym or in class, you can often find her taking time to engage in her hobbies, which includes photoshoots with her friends, graphic designing, dancing and grabbing some boba to go!

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Willow Project receives legal backlash from environmental groups