Judge rules offshore drilling leasing needs to consider climate

Media Contacts

Environmentalists hope this marks the ‘beginning of the end’ for Gulf drilling

Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

AUSTIN, Texas — In a victory for wildlife and ecosystems in and around the Gulf of Mexico, a U.S. District Court judge revoked the federal government’s November sale of oil and gas leases covering more than 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico. The ruling Thursday found that the Biden administration’s environmental assessment did not adequately take into account the greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the leases sold. 

Offshore drilling poses ongoing risks to ocean life and ecosystems — and that risk is worsening as we experience more extreme weather events caused by a warming climate. For example, in  September, Hurricane Ida barreled through the Gulf, causing oil spills. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported 55 spills within two weeks after the hurricane. One of the spills was dangerously close to Louisiana’s East Timbalier Island National Wildlife Refuge, a protected area. And according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, after the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010, “Texas suffered from both direct (e.g. direct oiling on beaches and wildlife) and indirect impacts (e.g. decreased recreational use; damaged habitat which in turn negatively impacted wildlife populations) as a result of the spill.

Luke Metzger, executive director with Environment Texas Research and Policy Center, released the following statement: 

“Alongside the harm offshore drilling does to our wildlife and coastal communities, it poses a grave threat to our planet: every rig we put in the water pumps out fossil fuels that will make our climate warmer and our weather more extreme. 

“I applaud Judge Rudolph Contreras for recognizing that the Biden administration needs to consider greenhouse gas emissions in its decisions about leasing. It’s time for the beginning of the end for leasing in our oceans — for our wildlife, for our coast, and for our climate. I hope the administration accepts this ruling and incorporates its profound logic into future decisions on oil and gas policy.”