Willow Snatched the Spotlight from a Massive Climate Win

Willow, a drilling project in Alaska’s North Slope, was approved this week. Outrage is all over social media, but why do many locals support Willow?

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What's your favorite Willow?

This week, the United States blocked all future oil and gas exploration in our Arctic Ocean, and blocked leases on more than half of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, a massive step in reducing potential future carbon emissions from the world’s second-highest emitting country. But unfortunately, that huge news has been all but ignored, as it was accompanied by a scaled-down approval of Willow: a drilling project in Alaska’s North Slope by ConocoPhillips. Though Willow was unanimously supported by Alaskan government officials in both parties and supported by a majority of neighboring Indigenous communities, activists and TikTokers in the Lower 48 fiercely opposed the development, amassing over 3.7 million signatures on a Change.org petition urging the government to block the project. Ethan discusses the problems with Willow, the reasons locals support the project, the importance of listening to local communities, and the massively underreported climate wins that accompanied Willow in this week’s “Tip of the Iceberg.”

The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at pbs.org/perilandpromise.

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Writer: Ethan Brown, Velina Georgi, Mo Polyak, Madeleine Salman

Fact Checker: Hallie Cordingley

Editor: Megan Antone

Producers: Olivia Amitay, Ethan Brown, Hallie Cordingley, Shannon Damiano, Maddy Schmidt

Ad Voiceover: Velina Georgi

Music: Brett Sawka

The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the host and guests. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Peril and Promise or The WNET Group.

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The Sweaty Penguin
The Sweaty Penguin is a digital news source and podcast aiming to make environmental issues less overwhelming and politicized and more accessible and fun.


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