October 6, 2022

“A” is for Responsibility | world justice

Thursday, October 6, is the last day to oppose a federal “Five-Year Plan” that would allow new offshore oil and gas drilling. Here’s what you need to know about this plan, how you can get involved, and why it’s so important to demand that the Biden administration choose Alternative A: The No Action Alternative, which doesn’t guarantee a new offshore oil and gas development in the plan.

What is the “Five Year Plan” and why is it important?

This document determines whether and where public offshore waters can be leased to industry for underwater oil and gas development. Every offshore oil spill, like the disastrous BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and the Gulf spill, started with an oil lease. Currently, the Department of the Interior is finalizing the next Five-Year Plan, which envisions arranging up to 11 new offshore lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet between 2023 and 2028. Approving this plan will lock down offshore oil and gas development for 40 to 70 years and prolong our reliance on fossil fuels for the better part of the century, despite the apparent need for an urgent transition to clean energy. The Biden administration should choose Alternative A: No Action Alternative, which does not guarantee new oil and gas development in the plan.

Why worry about the new federal offshore oil and gas drilling?

Besides the obvious concerns about oil spills, there are two main reasons for opposition: First, offshore drilling does significant damage to the health, cultural and economic well-being of coastal communities. Second, the new green-light federal offshore drilling is the opposite of what it should be if we’re to move away from fossil fuels and take meaningful action on climate change. There is no doubt: The extraction and burning of oil and gas underlying the seafloor will only bring more climate chaos, such as heatwaves, droughts and wildfires. It’s also silly to make new oil and gas leases when preparing to invest billions of dollars in clean energy technology.

Lawsuit against possible Cook Inlet offshore charter sale in Alaska, by Chief John Kvasnikoff of Nanwalek Native Village, this is part of the view. Here are a few examples of how Gulf communities will be negatively impacted by the new federal offshore drilling:

  • The potential for catastrophic drilling disasters, especially in an area more likely to be affected by hurricanes
  • Toxic refinery emissions as a result of infrastructure that necessarily accompanies new drilling and increases the risk of disease and chronic disease
  • Currently burdened with toxic industrial emissions
  • Losing even more land to pipelines and falling property values ​​due to industry

What happened to the last five-year plan?

The previous five-year plan covered the timeframe from mid-2017 to mid-2022 and included a total of 11 rental sales. The Ministry of Interior retained seven of the 11 cases. But a federal court dropped the eighth Gulf of Mexico Rental Sale 257 in response to a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice on behalf of Healthy Bay and others. The judge ruled that Home Office’s Rental Sale 257 did not take into account the effects of climate change. Interior refused to keep the ninth, 10th and 11th lease sales planned in its five-year plan before the plan expires in late June. Consideration of “lack of industrial interest” in Alaska and other factors affecting the Gulf.

I mean, the last four lease sales aren’t happening, are they?

Unfortunately, canceled lease sales are now back on the table. In August, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a major bill that includes harmful provisions related to energy development that invests billions of dollars in tackling climate change and also unfairly burdens environmental justice communities, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. . The IRA contains language that requires the Interior to make leases from Lease Sale 257 in the Gulf and requires the Interior to conduct three other lease sales in the Gulf and Alaska, which it previously refused to hold.

Does this mean we will see new offshore oil development from charter sales?

Not necessarily. These lease sales must still be lawful and can still be challenged in court. For example, any rental sale must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), our nation’s core environmental law, which facilitates better decisions that further protect the environment and public health. Our lawsuit on behalf of Gulf communities and wildlife has previously held these auctions liable to the law. Most recently, in August, an appeals court sent a pair of 2018 Gulf rental sales back to Home Affairs for reconsideration. We will continue our legal battle against Lease Sale 257 to enforce full compliance with the law, and we may challenge in court any or all of the three additional offshore oil lease sales in the IRA if the Interior does not fully comply with all ongoing federal laws. with these sales

How does all this relate to the offshore wind?

Another IRA provision prohibits leases for offshore wind development unless at least 60 million acres of offshore oil and gas leases are sold in the year prior to the issuance of wind leases. This is clearly an attempt to tie renewable energy development to oil and gas for the next decade and prevent us from moving away from fossil fuels. However, current oil and gas leases will support current oil production levels over the next decade. Following the passage of the IRA, the Biden administration must use the mandate it already has to continue with responsible wind development, reform the federal lease program, and terminate new oil and gas leases. Management must still choose where, how often, and under what terms and protections to decide on new oil and gas lease offers.

What can I do?

Tell the Home Office to choose Alternative A: No Action Alternative, which does not guarantee new oil and gas development in the 2023-2028 Five-Year Plan. While it is clear that the only way to achieve climate justice is to switch to clean energy, there is no reason to approve a new plan that charts a course for even more new oil and gas leases. The management of our public waters should be in line with the climate targets set by the administration itself.

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