'There's not a choice': Willow oil project approval threatens President Joe Biden's climate reputation

'There's not a choice': Willow oil project approval threatens President Joe Biden's climate reputation
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President Joe Biden's climate reputation is now at risk in many activist's eyes over his administration's decision to greenlight Willow, "a large-scale oil drilling proposal in Alaska," the Associated Press (AP) reports.

California college student and climate organizer, Elise Joshi, was hopeful in 2022 after she visited Washington, D.C. to witness the president "host thousands of supporters" in recognition of "groundbreaking legislation targeting climate change."

The Gen Z for Change leader will soon visit the nation's capital again to protest the president's move.

READ MORE: Democrats to Biden: 'reject Willow now and protect the Arctic'

AP reports:

The president made fighting global warming a central part of his agenda, and White House officials are quick to defend efforts to put the United States on track for steep emissions reductions in the coming years.

But the decision on Willow has alienated supporters, particularly young activists predisposed to skepticism about compromise and incrementalism, at the same time Biden is planning to announce his campaign for reelection.

"The president kept his word where he can by law," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, noting the president "has done more on climate change than any other president in history."

Regarding social media backlash, AP reports:

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland's video explaining the Willow decision was viewed more than 100,000 times on Twitter as of Thursday afternoon.

But Joshi's post on TikTok, which described Biden as having 'just slapped young people in the face,' was viewed more than 860,000 times.

A TikTok video by environmentalist Alex Haraus was viewed more than 270,000 times.

READ MORE: 'Disturbing and disappointing': President Joe Biden slammed for approving Willow Oil Project

“There is disappointment. There is anger. There is frustration," Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power, said.

However, she also noted, "what's happened on climate in the past year is nothing short of revolutionary," which, according to AP, includes "hundreds of billions of financial incentives for clean energy in last year’s legislation, and Republicans have refused to confront the problem of global warming."

According to Fortune, the project has received some political support in-state.

Fortune reports:

ConocoPhillips Alaska's Willow project could produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day, create up to 2,500 jobs during construction and 300 long-term jobs, and generate billions of dollars in royalties and tax revenues for the federal, state and local governments, the company says.

READ MORE: 'Irreparable and downright shameful environmental destruction': Groups demand Biden scrap Arctic drilling

Chief Policy Impact officer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Christy Goldfuss, told AP, "the problem for Biden is that other efforts to reduce emissions, such as raising vehicle mileage standards, have not received the same attention as Willow."

She noted, "We've seen time and time again that the public has not absorbed the enormity of what Biden has done on climate so far. This is a very high profile project, and he is suffering from a lack of enthusiasm. If he indeed announces that he's going to run for reelection, that enthusiasm is the foundation for the energy that he needs to win."

Lodes added, When it comes to the 2024 election, "I don't really think there's a choice. If you care about the climate, there's not a choice.”

READ MORE: Why executive orders on climate change may not be enough

Associated Press' full report is available at this link. Fortune's full report is here.

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