About the Western Arctic
The Western Arctic is America’s largest undisturbed tract of public land, approximately the size of Virginia.
America’s Western Arctic represents one of the most important fronts in the fight against climate change. Also known as the National Petroleum Reserve—Alaska, this 23-million-acre expansive wilderness is home to abundant wildlife and Indigenous communities who’ve thrived in the region for thousands of years. Representing 1% of the U.S. landmass – an area roughly the size of Virginia – this dynamic, undeveloped ecosystem supports diverse wildlife and subsistence resources for Native Alaskan communities.
Climate change is causing temperatures to rise in Arctic Alaska at four times the rate of the rest of the planet, and with each passing year, the Arctic is especially hard hit by destabilizing on-the-ground effects including sea ice melt, permafrost thaw, and coastal erosion.
Willow’s climate impact is heightened by its location in the Western Arctic, the cultural homeland and subsistence area for Alaska Native communities. The Western Arctic supports robust wild ecosystems that include caribou, geese, loons, salmon, polar bears, and bowhead whales, and its lands, waters, and animals support a number of communities in the region. Any disruption that jeopardizes the ecosystem’s health puts all of its inhabitants at risk
Recognizing the threat of permafrost melt, ConocoPhillips has said it plans to install “chillers” in the ground as part of Willow – meaning they will artificially cool the ground to extract more oil, which will only make climate change worse. The irony is hard to miss.