What is the 'Willow Project' in Alaska?

STORY: This site in Alaska is part of the controversial 'Willow project'

It's a plan by ConocoPhillips' Willow to drill for oil and gas in Alaska.

a plan that President Biden has announced will be approved, triggering angry reactions from climate activists.

So what exactly is the Willow project? and why are activist opposing it?

The Willow project is a roughly $7 billion proposal by ConocoPhillips

and would be located inside the National Petroleum Reserve,

a 23 million-acre area of undisturbed public land in the United States.

The area holds an estimated 600 million barrels of oil

Biden's Interior Department approved a scaled down version of the project

that would include three drill sites and less surface infrastructure than originally proposed.

Which - according to the Interior Department - would help to reduce its impact on habitats for species like polar bears and yellow-billed loons.

The full project had been initially approved by the Trump administration years ago,

but a federal judge in Alaska in 2021 reversed that decision, saying the environmental analysis was flawed and needed to be redone.

Despite the scale down, environmental groups remain unhappy

arguing that the project, even in its smaller form, still poses a threat to the wilderness

and that it conflicts with the Biden administration’s promises to fight climate change

[Kristen Monsell / Senior Attorney, The Center for Biological Diversity]

"They're already dealing with gas leaks, oil spills, toxic pollution from the existing oil and gas infrastructure that's already in the area and this will only cause more harm. And we all have an obligation to address the climate crisis. Our government has the obligation to do everything it can to address this massive problem that's affecting us all. I mean, climate change is not a issue that affects only one state or even one nation."