Huffman, Grijalva, Ocasio-Cortez, and Sen. Markey Issue Joint Statement on Willow Project Decision

March 13, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Water, Wildlife and Fisheries Subcommittee Ranking Member Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Ranking Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety today issued the following joint statement on the Biden administration’s final Record of Decision to approve ConocoPhillips’ Willow project, a massive 30-year oil and gas development proposal on public lands in Alaska’s North Slope.

In a juxtaposing win for conservation, the administration also finalized a ban on all new offshore oil and gas leasing in the Arctic and announced protections for 13 million acres of pristine Alaska public lands from onshore leasing yesterday.

“The Biden administration has committed to fighting climate change and advancing environmental justice—today’s decision to approve the Willow project fails to live up to those promises. Their decision ignores the voices of the people of Nuiqsut, our frontline communities, and the irrefutable science that says we must stop building projects like this to slow the ever more devastating impacts of climate change.

“While we acknowledge that the administration also just announced that it is conserving new public lands and waters in the Arctic, split decisions in the face of the climate crisis are not good enough. This administration clearly knows what the path to a cleaner and more just future looks like—we wish they hadn’t chosen to stray so far from that path with today’s Willow decision. The only acceptable Willow project is no Willow project.”

Over the past couple weeks, social media posts opposing the Willow project have exploded, garnering hundreds of millions of views and shares. Ranking Member Grijalva and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined these calls, leading a letter signed by nearly two dozen members of Congress, including Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Huffman, to President Biden urging him to reject the Willow project and select the no-action alternative.

As originally proposed, the Willow project includes 250 wells, multiple pipelines, a central processing plant, an airport, and a gravel mine close to ecologically fragile habitats. The project has been estimated to produce 287 million tons of carbon dioxide—the equivalent of the annual emissions from 76 coal plants—and cause nearly $20 billion in climate change-related damages.

The Willow project poses a significant health and safety threat to Alaska Natives and local communities, particularly those living in the nearby Inupiat village of Nuiqsut. Nuiqsut’s federally recognized and elected tribal government, in partnership with the city’s Mayor Rosemary Ahtuangaruak and city council, made their extensive concerns on the Willow project clear to President Biden.