Biden Administration to Hold First Offshore Drilling Lease Sale
Oceana Urges President Biden to Fulfill Campaign Commitment and End Leasing for Offshore Oil Drilling
Press Release Date: November 16, 2021
WASHINGTON — On Wednesday at 10 a.m. EST, the Biden administration is expected to livestream its first lease sale, Lease Sale 257, for offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf of Mexico. This lease sale directly contradicts President Biden’s campaign promise to end new offshore drilling. During a presidential debate, Biden said, “No more drilling on federal lands. No more drilling, including offshore. No ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period, ends, No. 1.” In January, President Biden issued an executive order pausing all federal offshore and onshore oil and gas leasing.
In February, in response to the executive order, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) rescinded the Record of Decision for Lease Sale 257, which was initially scheduled for March 17, 2021. In March, several states sued the Biden administration over the leasing pause. Oceana and a coalition of environmental groups participated as amicus to defend the administration’s authority to pause or cancel oil and gas lease sales. In June, a Louisiana federal district court judge prohibited the federal government from implementing the leasing pause. In September, citing the judge’s order, BOEM reissued the Record of Decision for Lease Sale 257 and set the date of the sale. In the Gulf of Mexico, 10.8 million acres are currently under lease for offshore oil and gas, but roughly 75% of the total leased area — 8 million acres — is currently unused.
Oceana campaign director Diane Hoskins released the following statement in response to the lease sale:
“Continued leasing for dirty and dangerous offshore drilling is a disaster for our environment, our economy, and our climate. The industry has already stockpiled 8 million acres of unused offshore oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico — more than six times the size of Delaware — and that’s before any new leases are sold. Getting serious about reducing emissions from fossil fuels must start with ending leasing for more offshore oil and gas development. Leases sold today will not produce oil and gas for at least five years and will continue to pollute for another 30 years. We cannot afford reckless decades of carbon pollution in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change.
“Instead of repeating mistakes from the past, President Biden must uphold his commitment to end new offshore oil and gas leasing. We urge the administration to immediately reverse course and explore every opportunity to uphold the president’s commitment to protecting our communities, our climate, and our economy from the threat of drilling. Our oceans can and must be a major part of our clean energy future through renewable offshore wind power, but we are counting on President Biden to keep his promise to end further offshore oil and gas leasing.”
A recent Oceana analysis found that permanent offshore drilling protections for all unleased federal waters could prevent over 19 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the equivalent to taking every car in the U.S. off the road for the next 15 years. The analysis also found that permanent protections in all unleased federal waters could prevent more than $720 billion in damages to people, property, and the environment.
As of today, nationwide opposition and concern over offshore drilling activities includes:
- Every East and West Coast governor, including Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, California, Oregon, and Washington
- Nearly 400 local communities
- Over 2,300 local, state, and federal bipartisan officials
- East and West Coast alliances representing over 55,000 businesses
- Mid-Atlantic, New England, Pacific, and South Atlantic fishery management councils
- Commercial and recreational fishing interests, such as the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Snook and Gamefish Foundation, Fisheries Survival Fund, Billfish Foundation, and International Game Fish Association
- California Coastal Commission, California Fish and Game Commission, and California State Lands Commission
- More than 120 scientists
- More than 80 former military leaders
- Department of Defense, NASA, U.S. Air Force, and Florida Defense Support Task Force
For more information about Oceana’s efforts to stop the expansion of offshore drilling, please click here.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit www.usa.oceana.org to learn more.