Back in January, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) released the 2017-2022 Oil and Gas Leasing Program, its proposed 5-year plan for offshore U.S. oil and gas development that includes ten potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, three in the Alaskan Arctic, and one in the Atlantic.
The direct environmental risks alone are reason enough to scrap the plan. The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico demonstrates the unacceptable risks of expanding deepwater offshore drilling and the total inadequacy of safety and environmental oversight. The Administration’s plan to promote exploration and development of oil resources in the Arctic is possibly even more troubling, putting already at-risk ecosystems under even greater threat.
The 5-year plan, along with the rest of Obama’s the All of the Above energy strategy, is also completely incompatible with the President’s commitment to seriously address climate change. In its most recent assessment report, the IPCC states that about two-thirds of existing fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground in order to have a likely chance of avoiding a global temperature increase of 2°C or higher – a level of warming that the Obama Administration has recognized would lead to catastrophic climate change. It therefore makes no sense for the BOEM to offer vast areas of federal land for companies to explore and develop oil and gas resources that we know we cannot burn in a climate-safe world.
Given that we cannot afford to burn the vast majority of known reserves, President Obama should strengthen ongoing efforts to transition the U.S. away from reliance on fossil fuels, rather than promoting development of some of the world’s most environmentally and financially risky oil and gas resources, like the Alaskan Arctic and deepwater offshore resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic that would be up for grabs by oil companies under the proposed plan.
The BOEM will prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to consider the environmental impacts, including climate change, of oil and gas development under the 5-year plan. The agency has said that it will consider climate impacts in the EIS, and we want to make sure they do it right. We are asking BOEM to consider not only the direct greenhouse gas emissions associated with oil and gas drilling activities, but to also prohibit leasing of any areas that cannot be developed under reasonable scenarios that stay within the 2°C limit. Sign our petition here to hold President Obama accountable to his climate promises: http://bit.ly/stop-offshore-drilling