The Biden-Harris administration is serious about acting on climate. Today, in a sweeping executive order on climate change, the new administration placed a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing in federal waters and lands. This is such an important step in protecting the health of our oceans and coastal communities and facing the climate crisis. And it’s a monumental shift from the Trump Administration, which recklessly sought to sell our public lands and waters to polluting companies at the expense of our environment and health.
This move to pause new offshore leases and to conduct a rigorous review of current leases and permitting processes shows that the Biden-Harris administration is listening to the overwhelming bipartisan opposition to offshore drilling and choosing to act on climate. We can’t continue burning the fossil fuels we already have, let alone begin to drill for new sources of oil, if we are to avert catastrophic impacts of climate change.
The ocean is feeling the impacts of climate change and has already absorbed 90% of the excess heat put into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. This pause on leasing is what coastal communities have been asking for. Leading up to the election, Trump, in attempt to win votes, was promising an offshore drilling moratorium in Virginia- along with a suite of other moratoria. Why? Because closing our coasts to offshore drilling is popular. Coastal communities, businesses, and elected officials see the threat that offshore drilling poses to the marine environment and their economies. They are tired of the dirty and dangerous fossil fuel industry that has a lousy record of cleaning up after spills. Ten years later, people are still feeling the impacts of Deepwater Horizon.
There are millions of jobs in tourism, fishing, and other industries that rely on a healthy ocean in order to generate billions of economic value annually that could be at risk from offshore drilling. The solution is clear—we need to stop new offshore drilling—and the Biden administration has taken a critical first step.
Now is the time to be focusing in a just and equitable transition to ensure that we have good clean energy jobs and we aren’t stuck relying on the offshore drilling industry. Offshore drilling threatens our ocean, coastal communities, and the planet—this executive order is exactly the type of movement we need to be seeing from an administration committed to acting on climate and including the ocean in climate solutions.