Major Lawsuit Filed After Biden Administration Opens 80 Million Acres Of The Gulf Of Mexico For Oil & Gas Leasing
Environmental and Gulf groups filed a challenge in court yesterday, immediately following the Biden administration’s decision to offer 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas leasing.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, it is clear that we need to be doing everything we can to transition away from fossil fuels to reduce the impacts of climate change, said Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director of Healthy Gulf. “Continuing to sell leases that allow business as usual is a bad decision.”
“This lease sale is deeply disappointing. The Biden administration has folded to the oil industry based on its campaign of disinformation and political pressure, ignoring the worsening climate emergency we face,” said Brettny Hardy, an attorney with Earthjustice, in a statement. “Our planet cannot handle more stress from oil and gas production, and yet the Biden administration is plowing ahead with a lease sale that will have impacts for decades into the future.”
“We’ll invite more disasters by selling off more of the Gulf to the oil industry,” said Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “As Louisiana recovers from this unprecedented extreme hurricane, it’s obscene to allow business as usual in offshore leasing. Climate change is rapidly intensifying Gulf storms, fueling uncontrollable wildfires in the West, and threatening numerous species with extinction. We need to end offshore oil drilling, not burden future generations with this dirty and dangerous folly.”
“Despite campaign promises to be climate and environmental justice champions, the Biden administration has opted to resume oil and gas lease sales,” said Hallie Templeton, deputy legal director at Friends of the Earth. “To add insult to injury, federal officials have violated federal law by relying on outdated and flawed environmental analysis, while continuing to treat the Gulf of Mexico as a sacrificial zone to Big Oil. To say we are disappointed is a gross understatement.”
The environmental analysis of the proposed sale relies on improper modeling to conclude that not having the lease sale will result in more greenhouse gases. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected this approach last year. Just a few weeks ago, a federal district court in Alaska found that the same conclusion was deeply flawed after the Department of the Interior tried to rely on it again for a large oil development project in Alaska’s Western Arctic.
The analysis is not only flawed but also out of date. The Interior Department last looked at the environmental impacts of a lease sale in 2017. Since the Interior completed its environmental analysis, significant new information has emerged that demonstrates, among other things, the dire state of the climate crisis and the potential for increased harm to endangered species, including the Rice’s whale, one of the most endangered whales on the planet, that is only found in the Gulf of Mexico.
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