The Willow Project an example of why UDM students should form environmental advocacy groups

The Biden Administration recently approved a $7 billion project to increase drilling in Alaska.

Known as the Willow Project, the drilling site is owned by ConocoPhillips, the state’s largest crude oil producer that owns the most exploration leases in the Last Frontier.

The Willow Project affects the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, an area that covers 23 million acres on the largest plot of US natural public land.

The project was initially introduced and approved by the Trump Administration but was reversed in 2021 by an Alaskan federal judge on the grounds of invalid environmental analysis.

Before it was approved by the Biden Administration, the project was altered to lessen environmental impacts on wildlife habitats.

Willow now has three drill sites instead of five and requires less infrastructure for its implementation.

Supporters of the original proposal are criticizing the Biden Administration’s alterations to it. Environmental advocates are criticizing the Biden Administration’s passing of it all, claiming that – reduced or not – it poses a great threat to environmental health and exacerbates climate change.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, has said it is launching a lawsuit to stop the Project.

For those that are concerned with the Project’s impacts, there are petitions online that can be signed to bolster support against it.

Detroit Mercy MBA candidate Madison English is one of the signers.

“It just doesn’t seem like a good step to take in the fight against climate change,” she said.

But what do good steps even look like?

On a policy level, the question has too many answers to count.

Some climate change activists call for a total end to fossil fuels; others say that phasing them out in moderation is a better approach. Some activists engage in acts of civil disobedience that spark heated online discussions while others lobby in their nation’s capital.

On a personal level, there are a lot of things we can do to help fight against climate change.

Cut back on consumerism – especially fast-fashion based consumerism. Boycotting places like Shein and Forever21 helps not only the climate but the marginalized and abused workers who create the products.

Walking or biking when possible and carrying a reusable water bottle are great actions, too.

Recycling and composting are efficient ways to help reduce your carbon footprint and make the landscape prettier – no one likes dead grass and landfills.

As students, we have a unique pathway to championing environmental health and improvement causes.

Student organizations and branches of nonprofits, like Sierra Club and the American Conservation Coalition, are great ways to boost community engagement, educate those around us and positively impact our localities through events like roadside cleanups, recycling drives and tree plantings.

Detroit Mercy currently does not have a student organization like this.

If you’re interested in pioneering this group, contact national organizations for branch establishment help and speak with Student Government Association members about the process of starting a group on campus