Today, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published its final Proposed Oil and Gas Program for the National Outer Continental Shelf, otherwise known as the five-year plan for offshore oil and gas drilling. 

Just last week, the governor of Louisiana held an emergency press conference to discuss the possibility that millions of people in Louisiana will lose access to fresh drinking water due to a severe drought that has been exacerbated by industry. 

This means that BOEM will eventually auction off parts of the Gulf of Mexico to the highest bidding oil and gas companies. Within the next 4 to 10 years, these companies will then develop new deepwater oil and gas drilling rigs which will then produce fossil fuels for 15 to 30 years. The completion of these sales will thus accelerate the climate crisis and lead to the death and displacement of frontline communities for several decades . 

Congress pressured BOEM to move forward with these lease sales, as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, a law that has greenlit new oil and gas production and will subsidize several technologies that utilize fossil fuels, such as hydrogen fuels and carbon capture and storage. 

Hundreds of thousands of people weighed in on the proposed offshore drilling program to ask that the federal government acknowledge the climate crisis and begin to phase out fossil extraction on public lands and waters, but their voices were ignored.

“For far too long, the federal government has asked regions with high concentrations of Black and Indigenous people and communities of color to sacrifice their health and environment for the nation’s energy needs. Our region, the Gulf South, is home to some of the most beautiful land and people in the world and a culture that can never be replaced. But all of this will be lost to the climate crisis if we continue to extract oil and gas out of the ground.”                                                            Taproot Earth’s Vision & Initiatives Partner Colette Pichon Battle 

“This summer, we experienced the devastating impacts of the climate crisis: wildfire smoke filling people’s lungs, deadly heat waves, destructive hurricanes and now saltwater intrusion taking away people’s drinking water. How much worse will it have to get before we decide to stop doing the main thing that has caused all of this suffering: fossil fuel extraction?”            –Taproot Earth’s National Policy Director Kendall Dix 

Fossil fuel infrastructure not only releases greenhouse gasses and other toxic chemicals that sicken surrounding communities, its accompanying pipelines eat away at coastal wetlands and litter the ocean floor with waste. These pipelines are preventing us from building new forms of renewable energy, such as offshore wind. Today’s announcement will delay a just energy transition and directly lead to more death and displacement in Gulf South communities.