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The Biden administration has proposed a massive reduction in offshore drilling

The Biden administration on Friday unveiled a highly anticipated drilling plan that would dramatically reduce the nation’s offshore oil and gas leasing program to a maximum of three lease sales over the next five years – the smallest number ever proposed in the history of the program.

The Interior Department said the proposal was “consistent” with President Joe Biden’s goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But environmental groups were quick to condemn the plan as a campaign promise not kept and totally out of step with what the scientists say. necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.

If approved, the plan would limit offshore oil and gas leasing to no more than three lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico – one in 2025, 2027 and 2029. It does not include any auctions in the Pacific, the Atlantic or the Alaskan Arctic.

The proposal constitutes a huge departure from both the Trump administration’s policies proposal 2018that identified 47 potential lease sales in the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and a previous proposal from Biden in July that considered up to 11 sales.

The Inflation Reduction Act, President Joe Bidenthe flagship climate law of Democrats passed last year, includes a provision championed by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), which linked future offshore wind development to continued offshore oil and gas leasing. Specifically, it prevented the administration from offering new wind lease sales unless it first auctioned drilling rights.

The Interior Department said the proposed plan allows the administration to continue working toward its goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of wind energy by 2030, enough to power 10 million homes for a year and reduce 78 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building a clean energy future that ensures America’s energy independence,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement. “The proposed program, which represents the smallest number of oil and gas lease sales in history, sets a path for the Department to support the growing offshore wind industry and protect against the potential for environmental damage and negative impacts on coastal communities. »

Since the offshore leasing program began in 1980, no five-year plan has had fewer than 11 charter sales, and a few have offered more than 30.

But with fossil fuel-driven climate change already wreaking havoc across the country and the world, environmentalists view any future lease sales as a monumental mistake.

“By not stopping new offshore drilling, President Biden missed an easy opportunity to do the right thing and deliver climate assurance for the American people,” said Beth Lowell of Oceana, an ocean advocacy group , in a press release. “This decision is beyond disappointing as Americans face the impacts of the growing climate crisis through more frequent and intense fires, droughts, hurricanes and floods. President Biden is sadly showing the world that there is nothing wrong with continuing to prioritize polluters over real climate solutions.”

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the environmental group Food & Water Watch, called the move “a far-fetched and irresponsible decision to increase oil production for decades to come” and an “unconscionable betrayal of future generations.”

On the 2020 campaign trail, Biden pledged to “take on the fossil fuel industry” and end new oil and gas drilling on federal lands and waters. Environmental groups say the administration has repeatedly broken those commitments, including approving oil giant ConocoPhillips’ massive Willow Project in Arctic Alaska.

Biden’s new offshore project is also likely to draw backlash from U.S. oil producers and their Republican allies, who have accused the administration of waging a war on fossil fuels and threatening energy security. Actually,

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


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