Statements

New oil and gas drilling sacrifices frontline communities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 6, 2022

CONTACT: Kendall Dix, kdix@taproot.earth, 434-442-0179

SLIDELL, LA – Today, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced its intention to move forward with new sales of two offshore oil leases in federal waters that were previously rejected. 

We are deeply disappointed with this decision. However, we know this is a direct result of a Congressional mandate embedded in the Inflation Reduction Act, which requires BOEM to move forward with these particular lease sales — as well as tying off-shore wind development to future oil and gas sales.

As a result of today’s announcement, BOEM will auction off parts of the Gulf of Mexico to the highest-bidding fossil fuel companies to develop new deepwater oil and gas drilling rigs. This decision will lock in 15 to 30 years of fossil fuel production, accelerating the climate crisis, and leading to the death and displacement of frontline communities for several decades. 

Moving forward, we urge BOEM to listen to the frontline leadership of nearly a million people who have provided public comments and signed petitions calling for no new leases and an end to fossil extraction on public lands and waters in BOEM’s 2023-2028 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (five-year plan). 

Taproot Earth’s Vision & Initiatives Partner Colette Pichon Battle had this to say about the announcement:

For far too long, the federal government has asked regions with high concentrations of Black, Indigenous, 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. 

While we know that Congress has essentially tied BOEM’s hands with these lease sales, we call on the agency to follow its own science and help lead our nation to a brighter future by issuing no new lease sales in the next five year plan. The Gulf and the planet can’t take any more of this. 

Taproot Earth’s National Policy Director Kendall Dix said: 

We are already seeing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis in Puerto Rico with Hurricane Fiona, in Florida with Hurricane Ian, and in Jackson, MS, where flooding has exposed decades of underinvestment in our public infrastructure. If we’re living in a constant state of disaster now, how bad will it be if we keep pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere? 

BOEM has a mandate to address the climate crisis by developing renewable energy, including offshore wind in the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, both currently operating and abandoned oil and gas infrastructure in the Gulf is blocking the development in the regions that could benefit from it the most. It’s time for BOEM to undo the damage by forcing oil and gas companies to clean up their mess and also issuing no new leases in the next five year plan. 

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Taproot Earth (formerly Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy) is a global climate justice organization with a mission to build collective systems of self-governance and restoration to advance a just transition to a sustainable economy. Learn more on our website at taproot.earth and on social media at @taprootearth.