DENVER -- The Department of Interior announced Tuesday that it will begin its comprehensive review of the department’s oil and gas leasing and permitting activities as required by President Joe Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis. This review, which follows a pause on new leasing activity by the administration, will begin with a public forum on March 25, featuring presentations from stakeholders.
The executive order directs the department to assess the costs to the climate and environment of federal oil and gas permitting and leasing practices in light of the department's responsibilities as steward of public lands and oceans.
Events like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which released 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and killed up to 170,000 sea turtles and 800,000 birds, show the environmental risks of offshore drilling. The infrastructure needed to support drilling comes with a crushing cost to the environment and coastal communities, as Environment America Research & Policy Center found in its 2019 Offshore Drilling, Onshore Damage report.
Environment America’s Protect our Oceans Campaign Director Kelsey Lampe released the following statement:
“Offshore oil drilling is dirty, dangerous and doesn’t belong in our coastal waters. We are thrilled that President Biden put a pause on leasing while his administration studies drilling’s inherent threats to America’s wildlife and our climate, and we look forward to bringing an end to the practice. From oil spills at sea to air pollution on land, from oil rig to onshore pipeline, bringing fossil fuels to market isn’t worth the risk and isn’t compatible with a healthier, greener future.”
Environment America’s Public Lands Campaign Director Len Montgomery released the following statement:
“Our public lands provide the space and serenity for Americans to lose themselves in the great outdoors. Parks, monuments, wildlife refuges and forests also provide space and habitat for wildlife. Polluting oil operations are inconsistent with what public lands represent in our country’s culture or ethos. We need to make drilling for fossil fuels on public lands a relic of the past. It puts our country’s natural heritage at risk for a little more oil at a time when we are beginning the rapid transition to clean, renewable energy.”