Statement: Five more years of offshore drilling

Media Contacts

Smallest oil leasing program ever starts to acknowledge new reality: No need to risk oceans for more oil

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Friday released its plan for offshore drilling leasing in federal waters for the next five years. Formally called the 2024 – 2029 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, the plan calls for three new lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico. While smaller than any previous presidential plan to sell offshore tracts for drilling, the new plan will still extend oil and gas extraction in U.S. oceans for several decades. This presents challenges to both our marine environment and the United States’ plans to transition to using clean energy as its power source. 

The previous draft of the plan created by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) called for 10 new lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one in Alaska, and could have auctioned up to 61 millions acres for oil exploration. Many environmental groups had called for zero new offshore lease sales

The Gulf of Mexico is home to wildlife from iconic sea turtles and dolphins to the recently discovered, endangered Rice’s whales. This plan continues to put them at risk and will do so for the foreseeable future.

In response, Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, released the following statement: 

“For decades, we’ve seen that drilling leads to spilling. The Deepwater Horizon explosion fifteen years ago and the ongoing Taylor spill continue to harm marine life here in the Gulf. We don’t need any new offshore oil rigs, and we certainly don’t want more devastating spills. It’s 2023, and it’s time to transition to renewable sources of energy and a cleaner, healthier future.” 

Dyani Chapman, director of Alaska Environment, released the following statement:

We’re working hard to lay the groundwork for a post-oil future, and this plan removes the one Alaska lease sale found in an earlier draft. This is a positive wave for the belugas, otters, and salmon up here, but the coast isn’t clear: Climate change means that any more drilling anywhere — even in the Gulf — can still create problems in a warming Alaska. 

Ian Giancarlo, oceans advocate with Environment America, released the following statement:

“Oil drilling threatens our oceans and the amazing sea turtles, whales, dolphins, manatees and seabirds that call it home. The Biden administration put out a final plan with fewer potential drilling sites than ever before, and that’s better than it could have been. But we truly need to strive for a fossil fuel-free future, and this offshore oil and gas leasing plan could do a lot more to get us there.”