Biden promised no more drilling on federal lands, ‘period, period’. This week he approved the massive Willow project
The Willow project is an act of terrorism against the climate, and the Biden administration has just approved it. This massive oil-drilling project in the wilderness of northern Alaska goes against science and the administration’s many assurances that it cares about climate and agrees that we must make a swift transition away from fossil fuel. Like Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Joe Biden seems to think that if we do some good things for the climate we can also do some very bad things and somehow it will all even out.
To make that magical thinking more obvious and to try to smooth over broad opposition, the US federal government also just coughed up some protections against drilling in the Arctic Ocean and elsewhere in the National Petroleum Reserve (and only approved three of the five drilling sites for ConocoPhillips’ invasion of this wilderness). Of course, this is like saying, “We’re going to kill your mother but we’re sending guards to protect your grandmother.” It doesn’t make your mom less dead. With climate you’re dealing with physics and math before you’re dealing with morality. All the carbon and methane emissions count, and they need to decrease rapidly in this decade. As Bill McKibben likes to say, you can’t bargain with physics.
Rebecca Solnit is a Guardian US columnist. Her most recent books are Recollections of My Nonexistence and Orwell’s Roses