With recent oil spills in both the Gulf of Mexico and California, the Department of the Interior confirmed its plans to lease land for oil and gas exploration. The auction of 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico is set for Nov. 17.
The Biden administration’s decision to hold the lease sale is being challenged in federal court after Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the Interior and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on behalf of Healthy Gulf, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and the Center for Biological Diversity. The lawsuit says that lease sale 257 is “illegal and contrary to the administration’s pledge to act on climate” because the Biden administration used an outdated 2017 environmental analysis and ignores new information showing the dangers from oil spills.
“The Biden administration’s decision to open up the Gulf to more drilling is not only hypocritical to their stated goals to act on climate, it is illegal,” Brettny Hardy, Earthjustice attorney, said. “The administration is relying on an environmental analysis that is deeply flawed and outdated.
While a pipeline off Huntington Beach, California ruptured over the weekend spilling 126,000 gallons of oil, which closed beaches, killed fish and seabirds, and damaged an already fragile wetlands ecosystem, the “Coast Guard continues to track oil leaks in the Gulf of Mexico from oil infrastructure damaged during Hurricane Ida,” according to a press release.
According to the Interior’s data, the lease sale will produce up to 1.12 billion barrels of oil and 4.2 trillion cubic feet of gas over the next 50 years.
“This is a continuation of the prior administration’s reckless and unlawful behavior, all while the real repercussions of offshore drilling are apparent by the unfolding oil disasters in both the Pacific and the Gulf,” Hardy said.
A new report conducted by American Progress found that “oil and gas interests gave a combined $4.5 million to the campaigns of the 14 governors and attorneys general that sued the Biden administration over the leasing pause put in place shortly after President Biden entered office.”
“We’re deeply disappointed by the Biden administration’s failure to follow the law and to fulfill its promises,” Hardy said. “So we will see them in court.”