Oceana Welcomes Bill That Protects Our Coasts from Expanded Offshore Drilling and Promotes Clean Ocean Energy - Oceana USA

Oceana Welcomes Bill That Protects Our Coasts from Expanded Offshore Drilling and Promotes Clean Ocean Energy

New legislation is a major step in preventing new offshore drilling in federal waters

Press Release Date: July 26, 2023

Location: Washington, D.C.


Cory Gunkel, Megan Jordan | email: cgunkel@oceana.org, mjordan@oceana.org | tel: Cory Gunkel, 202.868.4061

A new bill introduced today will untether future offshore wind energy development from mandatory offshore oil and gas leasing, as currently required by the Inflation Reduction Act. The Nonrestrictive Offshore Wind (NOW) Act, introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and co-lead Rep. Deborah Ross (D-NC), would end the current directive that the Department of the Interior hold an offshore oil and gas lease sale of at least 60 million acres in the year prior to issuing any new offshore wind leases.

“It is absurd and counterproductive to forcefully hold back the expansion of clean wind energy unless we continue to expand dirty and dangerous offshore drilling. Building offshore wind energy should never come at the cost of more fossil fuels, and this bill allows us to make that a reality. The climate crisis is here, now, and it’s affecting all of us through more frequent and intense weather events charged by fossil fuel use. Our oceans can and should be part of the solution, and the NOW Act is an important step in the right direction,” Oceana Acting Campaign Director Michael Messmer said.

“Oceana is proud to endorse the NOW Act, and we applaud Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ross, and all other members of Congress who understand how important it is to prevent new offshore drilling, promote responsibly developed offshore wind, and begin to shield our communities from the devastating impacts of climate change.” 

A 2021 analysis by Oceana found that protecting all unleased federal waters from offshore drilling in the United States could prevent over 19 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That is the equivalent of taking every car in the nation off the road for 15 years. Ending new leasing could also prevent more than $720 billion in damage to people, property, and the environment. 

“The NOW Act builds upon the record-breaking climate investments made last year and puts us further down the path of moving beyond a reliance on fossil fuels and toward a more sustainable future,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. “The climate crisis is a national emergency for the United States and disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable communities, including indigenous communities and communities of color. In the midst of this crisis, there is no reason that we should require more oil and gas drilling as a prerequisite for building renewables. This legislation will help end the stranglehold oil and gas has kept on our country while enabling good, union jobs in renewable energy development.”

Without the NOW Act, new offshore wind lease sales will continue to be paired with compulsory oil and gas leasing for at least the next 10 years. This new legislation allows offshore wind energy development to advance without selling millions of acres in the oceans to the oil and gas industry. The Biden administration is already on track to exceed 30 gigawatts of offshore wind production by the end of the decade, which is enough energy to power 10 million homes and support 77,000 jobs.

“New offshore drilling leases compromise the critical effort to address the climate crisis,” Oceana Acting Campaign Director Michael Messmer said. “The NOW Act is the logical next step in our fight to protect our coasts, advance the transition to a clean energy future, and safeguard a habitable planet for future generations.”

For more information about Oceana’s efforts to prevent the expansion of offshore drilling, please click here.