President Biden Holds New Offshore Drilling Lease Sale in Gulf of Mexico  - Oceana USA

President Biden Holds New Offshore Drilling Lease Sale in Gulf of Mexico 

Lease Sale 261, mandated by the Inflation Reduction Act, puts the Gulf of Mexico at further risk

Press Release Date: December 20, 2023

Location: Washington, D.C.


Cory Gunkel, Megan Jordan | email:, | tel: Cory Gunkel, 202.868.4061

Today the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) opened bids for Lease Sale 261, locking in more potential oil and gas drilling in federal waters. The lease sale will offer 72.7 million acres on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf in the Gulf of Mexico — a region that Oceana says has already been decimated by offshore oil and gas drilling.   

Oceana Acting Campaign Director Michael Messmer criticized the latest lease sale, releasing the following statement:  

“This lease sale is yet another problem that puts Gulf Coast communities and wildlife at risk. The gluttonous appetite of oil and gas companies has led them to already hoard away thousands of leases on millions of acres across the Gulf of Mexico. They don’t need any more. 

While President Biden had to move forward with this sale by court order, he does have the authority to prevent the expansion of offshore drilling through executive authority to permanently protect U.S. waters and coasts. The United States can lead the call for a transition away from fossil fuels that was agreed upon by more than 200 countries at COP28 last week, but only if President Biden steps up to permanently protect our waters from future offshore drilling.” 

This latest lease sale, along with the three new leases in President Biden’s final Five-Year Plan for oil and gas drilling, will add to the more than 2,000 leases the oil industry already holds, according to a recent Oceana report. That totals more than 11 million acres of ocean, with 75% of those acres currently sitting unused.   

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 have also prevented more than $720 billion in damage to people, property, and the environment. 

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