The climate crisis raged through our country this past summer. Extreme weather has been front page news for months, with wildfire smoke billowing across the country, California hit by the first tropical storm in 80 years, and the hottest month ever on record. Meanwhile, Florida waters hit a devastating 101 degrees. These are all examples of highly unusual events likely worsened by, or caused by, climate change.
These extreme events can lead to tragedy, taking human lives and destroying homes. So far in 2023, there have been 23 weather and climate disasters that caused losses of over a billion dollars each. This includes the most billion-dollar disasters ever recorded in the first seven months of a year which caused a total of 113 deaths and almost $40 billion in damages.
Climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels, and offshore drilling is fueling the climate crisis. At the end of September, President Biden released his final proposal for a Five-Year Plan for offshore oil and gas drilling. This plan schedules three offshore drilling lease sales in the next five years, which is the first step towards dirty and dangerous drilling. The devastating consequences of offshore drilling and spilling are why Oceana continues to call on President Biden to follow through with his campaign promise of no new leasing.
Oceana’s analysis found that permanently protecting all federal waters from new offshore drilling could prevent more than 19 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions– nearly three times the total annual emissions of the U.S. This would be equivalent to taking every car in the nation off the road for 15 years.
Not only is offshore drilling bad for our climate, but every new oil well and every foot of pipeline is a chance for an oil spill. Oil spill disasters aren’t isolated incidents. In the U.S. alone, there were over 6,000 oil spills between 2010 and 2020 — an average of almost two spills every day.
In addition to all the dangers of drilling, oil companies don’t need new leases. Oil companies already have over 2,000 leases totaling over 12 million acres of our ocean, and 9 million of those acres are currently unused. That means the fossil fuel industry is sitting on over 75 percent of their leased acreage.
President Biden must not sacrifice the Gulf coast by scheduling more offshore drilling leases in its waters. More drilling is an unwise investment in more intense hurricanes, more extreme heat waves, and sea level rise.
The final plan is expected in December, but members of Congress still have an opportunity to weigh in. Make your voice heard and tell your senators and representative to reject this plan while urging President Biden to issue a final plan that schedules no new leases for the next five years here.