Over the summer, we alerted you that at the direction of the Trump administration, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was beginning to develop a plan to open up more offshore areas to oil and gas drilling. On January 4, BOEM released its new five-year plan (called the “Draft Proposed Program”) for oil and gas offshore drilling and it is even worse than we had feared.
Under the Trump administration’s plan, 90% of the total offshore acreage available will be offered to oil and gas companies. The only offshore area excluded from the Draft Proposed Program is the North Aleutian Basin in Alaska. Under this proposal, every coastal area in the continental United States and Alaska are at risk from the devastating impacts of offshore drilling. Furthermore, BOEM is considering allowing leases as close as three miles away from our shores!
This is a massive hand-out to oil and gas companies. As stated in the Draft Proposed Program, oil and gas production from any leases that result from this plan “will likely not occur for a decade or more, and then will continue for another 30 to 40 years or longer.” This means BOEM is proposing to lock us into another half-century of reliance on fossil fuels. While oil and gas companies profit, coastal communities, marine life, and our climate will pay the price.
The good news is that this plan is not set in stone – as the name suggests, this is just a draft proposal. A 60-day public comment period on the Draft Proposed Plan just started, and we will soon circulate tips on how to submit impactful written comments. Starting January 16, BOEM also has public meetings scheduled in impacted states where people can ask questions and talk to BOEM staff about their concerns. To participate, review this list of meetings to see if there is one happening near you. If you can attend, RSVP as soon as possible.
If there are no meetings near you—BOEM needs to hear from you! Please call Ms. Kelly Hammerle, the Chief of National Oil and Gas Leasing Program Development and Coordination Branch at (703) 787-1613 and tell her:
“My name is _____ and I live in CITY, STATE. I am calling because I would like an opportunity to participate in a public meeting on the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Plan. However, BOEM has only scheduled a very limited number of public meetings and there are none near me. I believe these in-person meetings are a valuable way for the public to learn about and give feedback on the Draft Proposed Plan. Considering the significant impact that expanded offshore oil and gas drilling could have, especially on coastal communities and the millions that visit the coasts, I believe more members of the public deserve a chance to attend an in-person meeting. Therefore, I am asking you to add more public meetings, including one in _____. Thank you.”
If you go to a public meeting, here is a template that you can use to begin to prepare your statement:
“Offshore drilling is a toxic and dangerous practice that ravages our oceans with chemical pollution, spills, fires, and explosions. It kills fish and sea life, poisons coral reefs and pollutes beaches. Expanding offshore drilling damages the tourism, recreation, and fishing industries that generate billions of dollars for our nation’s economy. Please look forward rather than backward and invest public dollars in renewable energy sources.”
The more specific and fact-based your comments are, the more effective they will be, so please add in your personal reasons for opposing offshore drilling and explain why our oceans and coasts are so important to you.