Statement: BOEM to auction all remaining areas in Gulf of Mexico

Places 78 million acres of Federal waters at risk of oil and gas development

Environment Texas

AUSTIN — The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) plans to offer up all remaining areas in the Gulf of Mexico for auction to oil and gas companies tomorrow, offering leases for approximately 78 million acres in Federal waters — more than five times the amount of oil and gas lease acreage that the agency currently manages.

The sale, Lease Sale 256, includes parcels located off the coast of Texas, Louisiana, and neighboring states — some located as close as three miles offshore. BOEM estimates that the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf contains 48 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and 141 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered technically recoverable gas. Alone, that oil and its associated carbon emissions equates to:

  • Over 15,000 times the amount of oil spilled during the Deepwater Horizon disaster
  • About 4 times the amount of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions released by the US in 2019 (per/barrel carbon dioxide emission calculated using 0.43 metric tons CO2/barrel per EPA estimates)
  • The carbon dioxide equivalent of about 5000 coal plants burning for an entire year (see note above)
  • Over 25 times the amount of oil produced by Texas in 2019
  • Over 3% of the amount of oil consumed since the start of the industrial revolution

President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to ban new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters and to permanently protect treasured natural areas from drilling. One such area is the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, which is home to some of the healthiest coral ecosystems in the world. Activists sought to expand the sanctuary earlier this year, as current regulations allow for drilling just outside the sanctuary’s already tight boundaries.

Emma Pabst, global warming solutions advocate with Environment Texas, issued the following statements about the sale:

“This lease sale is pouring fuel on the flames of climate change. It’s steadily burning through what little time we have left to act, when science tells us that we need to extinguish the fire as quickly as possible.

“Texans can have a bright future with clean air and a healthy environment, but to get there, we need to stop turning to old, outdated, and polluting industries.”

Anna Farrell-Sherman, clean water advocate with Environment Texas, added:

“Drilling in the gulf endangers our communities, our fisheries, and our wildlife. We are lucky to have thriving coral reefs just off the Texas coast home to soaring manta rays, car-sized corals, and colorful fishes. Destroying these ecosystems and setting us up for a devastating oil spill is not only reckless, but undermines our trust that the BOEM has the best interests of our communities at heart.”


Environment Texas Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit