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Biden Admin’s 5-Year Offshore Oil & Gas Plan is “Lose-Lose”

Proposal to Lease More Public Waters in Gulf of Mexico Harms Climate, Puts Communities, Wildlife and Businesses at Risk

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management [on Friday] proposed as many as 11 potential offshore leases for oil and gas companies in public waters in the Gulf of Mexico and possibly Alaska for the five-year period from 2023 through 2028. The plan sets forth various options and the outcome will depend upon public comment.

Clouds of smoke and fire emerge during a controlled burn in an effort to clean up oil in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Photo by Justin Stumberg/U.S. Navy (cropped)

Manish Bapna, president and CEO of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) made the following statement:

“Expanding offshore drilling puts more ocean waters, marine life and coastal communities at risk of catastrophic blowouts and ongoing harm. If the administration chooses a plan that expands leasing, it will deepen our dependence on the fuels driving the climate crisis and padding the war chests of belligerent petro states. And it won’t do a thing to ease summer pump prices.

“Oil and gas companies already lease enough of the Gulf to cover half the state of South Carolina. That’s plenty, the industry itself says, to produce for another decade or more.

“It’s time to invest in cleaner, smarter ways to power our future — to get more clean energy from the wind and sun, speed the shift to electric vehicles and build a modern, reliable power grid and storage system. That’s the way to cut costs for our families, strengthen the economy and make our country more secure.”

The Department of the Interior will open a 90-day public comment period on its Draft Proposed Program.

A blog on today’s proposal is here.

Additional resources on offshore leasing:


The Five-Year Plan

On January 27, 2020, immediately upon taking office, President Biden issued an executive order directing the Secretary of the Interior to pause and review new oil and gas leasing in federal offshore waters and onshore.  The existing five year program dates back to the Obama administration, which announced a plan in March 2016 to exclude the Atlantic Ocean from leasing.

In January 2018, the Trump administration proposed, but never finalized, a five-year plan that would have opened nearly every coast — including the Atlantic and Pacific — to oil and gas leasing.

Permanent Protections from Offshore Leasing

In December 2016, President Obama had permanently withdrawn portions of the Arctic ocean and 26 canyon areas off the Atlantic Ocean from federal offshore leasing under the Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Act (OCSLA).

President Trump sought to reopen those areas in 2017.  NRDC and partners sued, and a federal court rejected Trump’s move.  In April 2020, following Biden’s executive order, a federal appeals court dismissed the case as moot.

Courtesy of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) 

Related article: More Offshore Oil & Gas Leasing Won’t Fix High Prices

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