Here’s Why The Willow Project Is Taking Over Your TikTok FYP

Youth activists have led the charge in the fight against the controversial project.
By Madison E. Goldberg
(Photo by Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The Willow Project has rapidly become a trending topic on TikTok and Twitter, with several young activists speaking out against it. A petition to stop it from happening garnered thousands of signatures. TikTok has particularly become a source of environmental education for many, and the Willow Project was no exception.

The controversial project, which was just green lit by U.S. President Biden, will take place in Alaska. The project entails ConocoPhillips drilling for oil on the state’s North Slope in the National Petroleum Reserve. This area is owned by the federal government.  It is currently estimated that the area could contain up to 600 barrels of oil, but they could take years to reach the commercial market due to the lengthy drilling process.

The Biden administration’s decision to move ahead with the project was reportedly born out of its ability to create jobs and funnel the money back into the local community, improving education and healthcare. One coalition of some Alaska Native groups on the North Slope does support the project, as it will also lessen the U.S.’ dependence on foreign oil imports. Foreign oil has led to several global armed conflicts, including Operation Dessert Storm in the 1990s.

Other Alaska Native groups that live even closer to where the project is set to begin have largely opposed it, due to its potentially harmful impact on the environment and air quality. Among them are city officials from the village of Nuiqsut. Nuiqsut Mayor Rosemary Ahtuangaruak and two other Nuiqsut city and tribal officials wrote to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, saying that “some villages get some financial benefits from oil and gas activity but experience far fewer impacts that Nuiqsut. We are at ground zero for the industrialization of the Arctic.” The Arctic has also been severely impacted by global warming over the last decade. Temperatures rise three times faster than in other regions of the world.

Youth climate activists on TikTok have worked to globalize what started as a local issue affecting an indigenous community. Many argue that the risks of this project are not worth the rewards. Land ownership within indigenous communities remains at the forefront of a politicized conversation as well. Some feel the project infringes upon the rights of the Alaska Natives that live in close proximity to where the drilling is set to take place. One TikTok user named Sam (@swaggysam666) frequently uses their platform to spread awareness on environmental issues. Sam broke down the science behind the ramifications of the Willow Project.

@swaggysam666

What is the Willow Project, and why should you care? Pt. 1 (website and petitions in bio linktree) #willowprojectbbwillowprojectoject #willowprojectawareness #environment #environmentalist #greenscreen

♬ original sound – Sam

There are now several petitions on Change.org that have amassed millions of signatures. Many TikTok creators also emphasize the importance of preserving the natural beauty of one of Alaska, as it is one of the most biodiverse states in America.

@jlouisapparel

Ban the willow project #fyp #foryou #willow #project #stopwillowproject #willowproject

♬ original sound – J. Louis

The Willow Project was officially approved today, in a move that many feel violated Biden’s campaign promises of prioritizing the environment. Notably, Gen Z voters largely supported Biden’s campaign, and were the driving force of the activism that went towards stopping the Willow Project. TikTok creator Luke Mullen (@lukiemullen) took to the platform to address the root of the frustration regarding the project’s approval.

@lukiemullen

My message to biden: #stopwillow

♬ original sound – lukeemullen

An official start date for the Willow Project  is to be announced, and protests against it continue nationwide.