Opinion | Why it is vital to steer away from the Willow Project

From the introduction of the Willow Project, there is space for environmental damage to occur.

Naomi Rivera Morales, Opinions Columnist

We must say no for the better.

There have been several environmental issues on the rise, including the use of pesticides, deforestation, the loss of biodiversity, and fossil fuels. One of the larger issues that was recently introduced is the Willow Project.

The Willow Project is a massive oil drilling project that would span decades and take place on Alaska’s North Slope. Supporters of this project say it is a positive move for revenue. Alaska’s state lawmakers have also expressed interest, explaining that this project would create more jobs and increase the production of domestic energy.

The Willow Project might offer jobs to those who need them, but the environmental effects outweigh this opportunity. By increasing air pollutants, we are merely putting ourselves in a worse spot than we are already in.

Several environmental groups stand their ground against the Willow Project. There have also been young voters in the streets and on the internet rallying against the project. A petition against the Willow Project already has over 1.6 million signatures.

Approval of this proposal would also go against President Joe Biden’s climate credibility. Before his inauguration, Biden said he did not want any new gas or drilling projects to take place on any federal lands.

The Willow Project could generate around 9.2 million metric tons of pollution into the air. According to The Washington Post, this would be the same as burning around 51,000 rail cars filled with coal.

Air pollution comes with health and environmental effects. In high concentrations, air pollution could cause serious concerns. This can involve health concerns ranging from lung and heart problems to cancer and long-term damage to several systems within the body.

The other concerns involve environmental effects. With an increase in air pollutants, wildlife is affected; acid rain, eutrophication, haze, ozone depletion, and crop and forest damage are all introduced; and — of course — global climate change.

These concerns are incredibly worrisome. I do not want to live in a system that strips the world of its nature. The world has given us so much, and yet, there are voices that continue to deplete it without care.

Environmental impacts are all around us. In Iowa, the introduction of pipelines is one of the largest forms of negative environmental impact.

Iowans had to ask to halt the introduction of carbon capture pipelines in 2022 within the state, according to The Des Moines Register. These pipelines would be damaging in their use, as they would cut through several counties within the state and damage the land. Existing damage would take years to repair.

Introductions like these come with risks that are not worth it. We need to stop prioritizing revenue over the health of the environment and humans. It is unacceptable. If we continue this, there will be nowhere for us, or future populations, to call home.

Knowing this, it is vital to voice and to rally against the negative causes that surround the health of our environment. We must say no to the Willow Project. We deserve to keep our world — and those within it — out of harm’s way.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.