Headline RoundupMarch 7th, 2023

Alaska's Willow Oil Drilling Project Unites Politicians, Worries Environmentalists

Summary from the AllSides News Team

A proposed oil drilling project in Alaska has united politicians while isolating environmentalists.

The Details: The Willow project is a $6 billion proposal from ConocoPhillips to drill oil in the 23-million acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The area holds an estimated 600 million barrels of oil, more than the current level in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is around a 40-year low. President Joe Biden will soon decide on approving the project; if he did, it would break a campaign promise to end new oil drilling projects on public land.

In Favor: Many state leaders support the project, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (D), Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R), Rep. Mary Peltola (D), and Alaska Native leaders and mayors of communities near the planned site. They acknowledge climate concerns but argue that the financial benefits will outweigh the negatives, and that the U.S. needs to reduce foreign oil dependence.

Against: Other local leaders raise concerns for communities closest to the site, with one calling it "ground zero for the industrialization of the Arctic." Activists are also worried about impacts on native species and ecosystems, and millions have sent letters or signed online petitions calling to stop the project.

How the Media Covered It: Center- and right-rated sources, as well as local sources like the Anchorage Daily News, focus more on support for the project. Some left-rated outlets focused more on opposition, and framed the project as a blow to climate protection efforts.

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