Taking action to protect ocean wildlife and U.S. coasts, the Biden administration ditched plans for three offshore oil and gas lease sales. Two of the canceled tracts scheduled for sale were in the Gulf of Mexico; one was planned for Cook Inlet in Alaska.
The administration pointed to a lack of interest in the Cook Inlet tract and conflicting court rulings that delayed lease sales in the Gulf. Since offshore oil and gas infrastructure development can begin on leased parcels up to a decade after the lease is sold, canceling these sales will forestall years of risks of more oil spills in ocean waters, as well as decades of fossil fuel pollution and waste contaminating coastal communities and habitats.
Kelsey Lamp, Protect Our Oceans campaign director for Environment America highlighted the significance of this move:
“The Biden administration’s action acknowledges what Americans have long known: oil drilling in ocean waters is dirty and dangerous. Drilling leads to spilling, sometimes in the form of gushing wells, such as the infamous Deepwater Horizon spill, and other times with steady leaks.
“Each spill highlights the reality of offshore drilling: we are putting whales, dolphins and sea birds, plus our beaches and coastal communities in harm’s way unnecessarily.
“Coastal communities have known for decades that the costs of offshore drilling to our environment and our health far exceed the price oil companies can pay for drilling off our coast. Now, with the rapid growth of clean energy alternatives and with each new commitment to renewable energy, we no longer need to accept this risky, dangerous practice as the price of powering our lives.
“We’re pleased that the end result is one that better protects the ocean.”