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Congressman Maxwell Frost Says Biden Betrayed Young Voters by Approving Willow Oil Project

The youngest member of Congress denounced President Joe Biden’s approval of the ConocoPhillips’ Willow oil project as a betrayal to young voters that have supported him.

The Biden administration approved the project on March 13, opening the pathway for drilling to begin on Alaska’s North Slope. A group of six environmental groups filed a lawsuit this week in hopes of stopping the project, which they say will hurt the wildlife and land. 

“Youth voter turnout was at its highest in 2020 & young folks supported him because of commitments such as ‘no more drilling on federal land,'” wrote Frost. “That commitment has been broken. We deserve a livable future.”

While campaigning for the presidency, Biden had vowed to stop new oil drilling on federal land. The ConocoPhillips project has originally been authorized by President Donald Trump. The undertaking is expected to cost $8 billion. 

The Florida Congressman warned the project could “generate up to 9.2 metric tons of carbon per year … at a time where we need to drastically reduce emissions to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis.” 

Frost’s comments were accompanied by a statement from the nonprofit Gen-Z for Change.

“This decision sets a harrowing precedent for the administration going forward that, when faced with the choice between corporate greed and the American youth, the former will prevail,” the group wrote. “These actions were taken in blatant disregard for activists and frontline organizers that have been working for years to prevent such a disaster.”

“As a result, the United States has failed again to live up to its highest ideals and has effectively ended the promise of 1.5C despite the pleas of activists from across the Global South and indigenous frontline communities,” states Gen-Z for Change. “There is no deeper form of betrayal than watching a president who has claimed to value the voices of youth and to respect Indigenous sovereignty blatantly disregard one of our generation’s largest and clearest movements.”

According to a 2020 Pew Research poll, 69% of millennial and Gen-Z voters considered climate change a “very important” issue during the last election cycle. Overall, 68% of people who identified as Biden supporters said climate change was a “very important” issue when deciding who they would cast their votes for. 

The Willow oil project is the largest proposed oil project in the country. It includes three drill sites in the National Petroleum Reserve, a 23-million acres expanse roughly 100 miles from the Arctic Circle. The federal government has estimated 600 million barrels of oil could be produced from the project over the next three decades. 

Despite blocking oil projects throughout his current term and advocating for a $369 billion environmental project package, Biden’s approval of the Willow oil project marks a departure from his anti-fossil fuel stance.  

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has defended Biden’s support for the project. While speaking to reporters on March 16, she said the President “has done more on climate change than any other president in history.”

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