President Biden Holds Oil and Gas Lease Sale Off Alaska’s Coast
Oceana says the lease sale undermines U.S. climate goals and threatens the environment
Press Release Date: December 30, 2022
Location: Washington, DC
Today, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held Lease Sale 258 for offshore oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. This is the first of three lease sales resulting from a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act that directs BOEM to hold lease sales for new offshore oil and gas drilling.
The lease sale offered today consists of about 958,000 acres for new offshore oil and gas development, stretching from Kalgin Island in the north to Augustine Island in the south.
Oceana campaign director Diane Hoskins criticized the lease sale, releasing the following statement:
“Today’s lease sale for dirty and dangerous offshore drilling represents the dark side of our nation’s climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act. Continued leasing for oil and gas undermines efforts to address the climate crisis. Where oil companies drill, they spill, and that’s why it’s time for President Biden to fulfill his campaign commitment to end new leasing for offshore drilling. The president can make good on his promise by finalizing a five-year plan for offshore drilling with no new leases.”
Government data show that new offshore drilling in Cook Inlet comes with around a 20% chance that a large oil spill, defined as a spill of 42,000 gallons (1,000 barrels) or more, will happen over the course of the lease.
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.
The Cook Inlet region is the most heavily populated region of Alaska with approximately 400,000 people living in the watershed. Cook Inlet is a wild and diverse environment, is heavily influenced by tides, and often experiences sea ice cover. The Cook Inlet region includes several critical habitat designations under the Endangered Species Act, including waters important for the critically endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale. This area provides habitat for myriad wildlife including brown and black bears; all five species of Pacific salmon; and humpback, orca, and beluga whales.
For more information about Oceana’s efforts to stop the expansion of offshore drilling, please click here. For more information about the frontline communities who will be impacted by this lease sale, visit Oceana.org/ProtectAlaska.
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.