President Biden Continues to Hold New Offshore Drilling Lease Sales, Latest in Gulf of Mexico - Oceana USA

President Biden Continues to Hold New Offshore Drilling Lease Sales, Latest in Gulf of Mexico

Oceana says lease sale undermines Biden’s pledge to stop new drilling, protect our climate, and address environmental justice

Press Release Date: March 27, 2023

Location: Washington


Megan Jordan | email: | tel: 202.868.4061

On Wednesday, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will open the bids for Lease Sale 259 for new offshore oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico. The lease sale will offer 73.3 million acres in federal waters of the Western, Central, and Eastern Planning Areas in the Gulf of Mexico, a region Oceana says has been overburdened by the oil and gas industry. While the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) directed BOEM to hold this lease sale, President Biden’s Five-Year Plan that determines when, where, and whether there will be future leasing for offshore drilling. The President’s decision is expected in September. 

Oceana Campaign Director Diane Hoskins criticized the lease sale, releasing the following statement: 

“Expanding dirty energy will worsen the climate crisis and new leasing for offshore oil and gas drilling must stop. President Biden may claim his hands were tied on this sale because of the IRA’s mandate, but he still has the opportunity to make good on his promise to end new oil and gas leasing in his Five-Year Plan. This harmful lease sale was mandated in our nation’s landmark climate law because dirty energy corporations made the Gulf of Mexico a bargaining chip to reach a deal. For too long, Gulf coast communities have borne the brunt of pollution from oil and gas development and it’s time for this to stop. President Biden must finalize his offshore drilling plan with no new leases.” 

During his presidential campaign, President Biden pledged to end new leasing for offshore drilling. According to the International Energy Agency, nations must stop developing new oil and gas fields if global warming is to stay within relatively safe limits. An Oceana analysis found that permanent offshore drilling protections for unleased federal waters in the U.S. could prevent over 19 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions as well as more than $720 billion in damages to people, property, and the environment. 

President Biden’s Five-Year Plan for 2023-2028 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing is scheduled to be issued in September. A litany of public comment has sought to persuade him to exclude new offshore drilling leases from the plan – with 760,000 petitions delivered at a rally outside the White House demanding an end to offshore oil leasing and even bus shelter ads near the White House. Photos from the rally are available here. 

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis promised to oppose new oil and gas leasing off the coast of the Sunshine State. But in a December 12, 2022 letter, his Florida Department of Environmental Protection merely expressed “concern,” yet made no effort to oppose Lease Sale 259. Several Florida-based organizations have opposed Lease Sale 259.  

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster killed eleven people and resulted in more than 200 million gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico. Oil from the spill tarred hundreds of miles of Gulf coast shoreline stretching from Texas to Florida and devastated coastal economies. Losses to the seafood industry alone were estimated at nearly $1 billion. The disaster had deadly impacts for dolphins, whales, sea turtles, and more. 

For more information about Oceana’s efforts to stop the expansion of offshore drilling, please click here. Learn more about lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.  

Oceana advertisements at bus shelters outside the White House complex in Washington, D.C., calling on President Biden to stop new offshore drilling.