- A nonprofit founded by a left-wing billionaire is pushing a viral TikTok campaign opposing the Willow Project, an Alaskan oil development.
- Hansjorg Wyss, a wealthy Swiss financier, co-founded and heavily funded the Conservation Lands Foundation, the organization spearheading the #StopWillow campaign on social media platforms.
- Many of the TikTok activists involved in the campaign are also linked to the Biden White House and Democratic operatives.
Over the past few weeks, activists and influencers have joined in a viral campaign opposing the Willow Project, a planned Alaska oil development, posting “#StopWillow” on social media platforms including TikTok and Instagram. However, instrumental in the campaign is a pro-conservation group co-founded and heavily funded by a Swiss-born left-wing billionaire.
The Willow Project is a multi-billion dollar oil drilling development in Alaska proposed by energy firm ConocoPhillips. The project, which is expected to produce over 180,000 barrels of oil a day when ramped up, has endured numerous setbacks, and the Biden administration is poised to soon either approve or deny the project’s proposed drill sites. (RELATED: Biden-Aligned ‘Propagandists’ Use China-Owned TikTok To Run Viral Campaign Against American Energy)
As the Biden administration’s decision appears imminent, numerous TikTok influencers and activists have boosted the Stop Willow hashtag to implore the Biden administration to deny the project. A key player in the #StopWillow campaign is Stop Willow, an initiative of the Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF), a Colorado-based environmental activist organization that often targets domestic oil and gas projects.
CLF was co-founded by Hansjorg Wyss, a Swiss-born philanthropist who has donated heavily to left-wing causes and candidates, along with groups allied to the Democratic Party, according to Wyss’ group’s records and multiple news reports.
Stop Willow’s name has become synonymous with the online campaign to derail the Willow Project, according to Forbes, and it strongly advocates for the Biden administration to deny ConocoPhillips the ability to drill.
Stop Willow’s website includes a variety of resources, such as fact sheets and recent coverage related to its campaign to halt the Willow Project, while repeatedly making use of the Stop Willow hashtag. Moreover, the Stop Willow site immediately directs visitors, through a large blue button superimposed with “Take Action To #StopWillow,” to a site called Protect The Arctic, which provides further resources about how to get involved in opposing the Willow Project.
Protect The Arctic’s site, which also promotes the Stop Willow hashtag, includes a list of resources for activists to use, such as a letter template addressed to President Joe Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, as well as images of Alaskan wildlife. In addition, the site links to a folder of media assets and talking points to be used by influencers on social media to urge the Biden administration to halt the project.
A cursory glance through TikTok’s search results for #StopWillow reveals numerous videos that have used clips from Protect The Arctic’s media deck, while several TikToks link back to the site itself. The hashtag has notched over 150 million views at the time of publication, per TikTok’s data.
The Biden Administration is expected to make a decision on the Willow Project next week. If approved, it will release 9.2 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon pollution PER YEAR.
That’s equivalent to adding 2,000,000 cars to the roads.https://t.co/0EjRI6pzUW
— Gen-Z for Change (@genzforchange) March 5, 2023
Protect The Arctic also appears to be collaborating with the Alaska Wilderness League (AWL), as it notes in a disclaimer that contact information shared with Protect The Arctic is also shared with AWL.
Protect The Arctic and AWL did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
CLF, the group behind Stop Willow, is the product of Wyss, a Swiss billionaire with a documented history of philanthropy and political donations, primarily to left-wing causes and candidates.
Wyss was a founding board member of CLF and served as its director until 2012, tax filings show. In addition, The Wyss Foundation, Wyss’ philanthropic organization, donated $1 million or more to CLF each year from 2010 to 2014, according to tax filings.
For comparison, CLF’s gross receipts in 2010 was just over $2 million, according to tax filings.
CLF’s current board of trustees includes several members of The Wyss Foundation, such as Chris Killingsworth, the foundation’s executive vice president, and Heath Nero, senior program officer in charge of global conservation at the foundation. Wyss himself is listed as an emeritus trustee.
Wyss’s philanthropic groups are heavily involved in left-wing politics; his Berger Action Fund, which shares facilities with The Wyss Foundation, donated more than $135 million to the Sixteen Thirty Fund between 2016 and 2020, according to a New York Times review of tax filings. The Sixteen Thirty Fund is a Democrat “dark money” group that bankrolls left-of-center candidates and organizations, and is managed by Arabella Advisors, a consultant firm with ties to the Democratic party, the DCNF previously reported.
Another Arabella-advised left-wing group, the New Venture Fund, took in over $27 million from The Wyss Foundation between 2016 and 2019, according to the NYT.
Moreover, many of the influencers themselves active in the #StopWillow campaign have links to the Biden White House.
Elise Joshi, acting executive director of Gen-Z for Change, has posted numerous TikToks including #StopWillow, while Gen-Z for Change’s own social media accounts have promoted the Stop Willow hashtag. Gen-Z for Change is advised by a long-time Democratic communications professional and has worked with White House communications director Rob Flaherty and Dr. Anthony Fauci on issues such as COVID-19 vaccines and the Build Back Better agenda, the Daily Caller previously reported.
“We cannot afford new oil and gas exploration and extraction. Instead, we must create millions of jobs for wind and solar, an energy-efficient grid, public transportation, and more. Please stop Willow and be a climate champion,” Joshi told Newsweek.
The Wyss Foundation, a representative for Wyss and the Conservation Lands Foundation did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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