On Nature: Alaskan Oil Drilling

On Nature: David Voigts

In the recent State of the Union address, President Biden touted his commitment to reducing climate change, but there is concern that his administration is about to take a big step backward. The Bureau of Land Management is poised to approve the Willow oil drilling project in the northeastern part of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a huge area of wilderness west of the current oil producing area around Prudhoe Bay.

The project would release a great amount of carbon dioxide that would accelerate climate change. Also, any oil that is produced will be many years away and will not lower gas prices. Finally, the threats to caribou, polar bears, waterfowl, salmon, wolves, and the way of life of the indigenous people outweigh any benefit from this intrusion into a wilderness.

Proponents counter that carbon emissions from China would cause more climate devastation than the burning of fossil fuels from the Willow project and that we probably would replace this oil by buying more oil from Venezuela or OPEC. However, the United States cannot be a leader in combating climate change by starting new oil drilling projects. The Biden administration needs to deny this project.

David Voigts is a retired ecologist and the current Conservation Chair for the Prairie Rapids Audubon Society. He is a Tama County native, graduating from Dinsdale High School, and lives in rural Jesup on his wife’s family farm.