Congress Speaks Out Against More Offshore Leasing

The Biden administration's plan to offer up to 11 new offshore oil lease sales was met with strong opposition from members of Congress. On Friday, the Department of the Interior released its five-year leasing plan that did not meet the moment.

This offshore leasing plan to sell parts of the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska to Big Oil comes despite overwhelming evidence that further offshore oil and gas development will have zero impact on current high oil prices, worsen devastating climate change impacts, and harm coastal communities and ecosystems. This is a business-as-usual leasing plan in a time when we need a plan that recognizes the climate crisis and that our future is at stake. 

Members of Congress spoke up in response to the proposed program and how it is out of line with the Biden Administration’s climate and environmental goals and puts coastal communities in jeopardy.

Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) stated

Holding any new offshore oil and gas lease sales over the next five years is a lose-lose for Americans. It will do nothing to help lower prices at the pump, and it will make our emissions goals virtually impossible to achieve… I do take solace in knowing that the Biden administration has made it clear they will listen to frontline environmental justice communities and consult with tribes. After gathering additional public input from Gulf Coast and Alaskan communities over the coming months, I’m hopeful that BOEM comes to the correct conclusion and issues a final program with no offshore sales.” 

A few days before the release of the proposed five-year program, Senators Bob Menendez (D- NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.)  lead a strong letter to the Biden Administration advocating for no new offshore leasing, 

We urge you to protect our coastal communities, economies, ecosystems, and climate by including no new leasing across all planning areas in any proposed or final five-year OCS oil and gas leasing program,” the senators wrote to Secretary Haaland. “As Senators representing coastal states, we know that offshore drilling is inherently a risk-reward proposition, with our coastal communities shouldering the risk and oil companies reaping the rewards.  History shows us that it is not a question of if an oil spill occurs, but when.” 

Other House members spoke out against the plan for more offshore drilling. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) made her thoughts clear, "New offshore drilling will not drive down prices in the short term; in fact, the industry already has more than 2,000 active leases on more than 11 million acres of federal waters, and 75% of them are currently not producing oil or gas. Instead of doubling down on drilling, we must double down on producing affordable clean energy in America. That's our path to energy security and energy independence." 

“Offshore drilling poses unacceptable risks, and the science and public opinion are clear: we should not put our oceans and fisheries, coastal communities, economies, and planet at risk just to enrich the fossil fuel industry,said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) “Handing over any new leases won’t lower prices by a cent – it will only pad their pockets while fueling the climate crisis. Hopefully, BOEM will wake up to this reality and ultimately release their final plan without any of these ill-advised leases.”

Other members took to social media to share their thoughts on the Biden administrations proposal:

This is just the beginning, the Biden administration is welcoming public comment on the five-year program and needs to hear from Congress and from all of us who care about climate, our coasts, and communities. We hope to see members of Congress continue to weigh in with the administration on why more offshore oil and gas leasing is not the future we need. 

You can take action here to reject more offshore leasing and prioritize environmental justice, clean energy, and climate action, and not oil company profits.

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