The U.S. Department of the Interior released its National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2024-2029 (“Five-Year Plan”) today, under which it intends to offer three lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico. Although this plan includes the fewest lease sales in the Five-Year Plan’s history, and significantly fewer than what the draft plan proposed, it is still incongruent with both President Biden’s domestic climate and environmental justice commitments and global action to keep global warming to 1.5℃.
Oil and gas companies already hold thousands of unused leases totaling millions of acres to drill in public waters. If the administration is committed to championing equity and environmental justice and combatting the climate and biodiversity crises, it cannot maintain the practice of leasing our public waters to the highest bidders for fossil fuel extraction.
In response, Marc Yaggi, the CEO of Waterkeeper Alliance, issued the following statement:
“Although we recognize the Biden administration’s Five-Year Plan has the fewest leases ever, we cannot celebrate worsening environmental injustices, increasing harmful emissions, and being locked into fossil fuel production for decades past what is recommended by the world’s top scientists,” said Marc Yaggi, CEO of Waterkeeper Alliance. “We understand that federal law requires the administration to put forward this five-year plan, and that the Inflation Reduction Act requires the government to permit oil and gas leasing as a precondition to allowing wind and solar farms on federal lands and waters. However, centering the voices of impacted communities – those who will bear the brunt of these offshore drilling lease sales – is critical to achieving a just transition. We stand in solidarity with communities in the Gulf to push domestic and global leaders to end offshore leasing and immediately phase down the extraction of dirty and dangerous fossil fuels.”
Ending new offshore oil and gas drilling in our oceans is critical to limiting the worst impacts of climate change, protecting the health of our most vulnerable communities, and safeguarding our threatened marine wildlife from seismic blasting and oil spills. Expanded offshore oil and gas drilling will perpetuate a legacy of harm to coastal communities and wildlife.
Right now, fossil fuel extraction on public lands and waters make up a quarter of our greenhouse gas emissions — at a time scientists are saying we must move urgently to cut emissions by at least half. Not only does it devastate our planet, it’s a handout to Big Oil at the expense of average Americans, and in particular, frontline communities, who will bear the brunt of its impacts.
For more information about Waterkeeper Alliance’s Climate and Safe Energy campaign, click here.