Sierra Club Statement on White House Final Decision on Willow Oil and Gas Project

The harmful effects of President Biden’s decision cannot be overstated

Ian Brickey,

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Department of the Interior issued a final decision granting approval to ConocoPhillips’ proposed oil and gas operation in the Western Arctic, commonly called the Willow project.

Under the plan approved by the Biden Administration, ConocoPhillips will be allowed to develop three well pads in one of the largest oil and gas extraction projects on U.S. public lands.

Environmental groups and Indigenous communities had opposed the controversial project, with some calling it a “carbon bomb” that could emit nearly 300 million metric tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere while locking the U.S. into fossil fuels for decades. The decision also comes after the Administration announced new protections for Arctic lands and waters, prohibiting oil and gas drilling on millions of acres of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the Arctic Sea.

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous released the following statement:

“We can’t drill our way to a sustainable future. We must conserve public lands, not sell them off to corporate polluters. The harmful effects of President Biden’s decision cannot be overstated. By allowing ConocoPhillips to move forward with this operation, he and his administration have made it almost impossible to achieve the climate goals they set for public lands. Willow will be one of the largest oil and gas operations on federal public lands in the country, and the carbon pollution it will spew into the air will have devastating effects for our communities, wildlife, and the climate. We will suffer the consequences of this for decades to come. 

“While we celebrate the administration’s unparalleled protections for Alaskan landscapes and waters, the decision to approve the Willow project may very well wipe out many of these climate and ecological benefits. And by approving one of the largest oil and gas extraction projects on federal public lands, one must ask the question what the Biden administration has in store for the Arctic Refuge.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit