Protect All Our Coasts Coalition Responds to the Biden Administration’s Five-Year Plan for Offshore Drilling
Washington, DC — Today, the Protect All Our Coasts Coalition – a broad coalition representing over 20 organizations, spanning national, regional, local, and environmental justice organizations who are aligned with the shared goal of preventing new offshore drilling – reacts to the Biden administration’s National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2024-2029 (“Five-Year Plan”).
The U.S. Department of the Interior released its final Five-Year Plan today, offering three lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico.The final plan scales back from the eleven sales originally proposed to three and spares Alaska. But the plan is a step backwards from the climate goals the administration has set and for environmental justice communities across the Gulf South, who are already experiencing the disproportionate impact of fossil fuel extraction across the region. This decision comes after over a year of advocacy in which the Protect All Our Coasts coalition has consistently stood together in their call for “No New Leases” in the final Five-Year Plan.
Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Biden administration could have finalized a Five-Year Plan with no new leases for offshore drilling. Offering three lease sales is incompatible with reaching President Biden’s goal of cutting emissions by 50-52% by 2030, undermines domestic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and runs counter to commitments to Gulf communities that already bear the brunt of oil, gas, and petrochemical buildout.
In response to the release of the Department of Interior’s Five-Year Plan, these organizations have released the following statements:
“Given that there are over 9,000 leases, yet to be explored or tapped into, it makes no sense that the Biden administration would open up additional leases, placing the environment and the lives of people in serious jeopardy in the Gulf South. Folks in Port Arthur, TX die daily from cancer, respiratory, heart, and kidney disease from the very pollution that would come from more leases and drilling,” said John Beard, Founder, President, and Executive Director of the Port Arthur Community Action Network. “If Biden is to truly be the environmental president, he should stop any further leasing and all forms of the Petrochemical build out, call for a climate emergency, and jumpstart the transition to clean green, renewable energy, and lift the toxic pollution from overburdened communities. We say enough is enough. We refuse to be sacrificed. We reject the five year plan, and demand that President Biden treat us like living people, not pawns in a Petrochemical power-play for profits at the expense of our lives, health, and futures.”
“Our community stands with others throughout the Gulf South that condemn the expansion of offshore drilling. The Biden Administration’s decision contradicts promises of environmental stewardship and places profit over the well-being of our communities and plane,” said Armon Alex, Co-Founder of the Gulf of Mexico Youth Climate Summit. “ It’s imperative that we prioritize climate action and the protection of vulnerable frontline communities. Let us unite to end new offshore drilling and pave the way towards a clean, just, and sustainable energy future.”
“We’re disappointed the Biden Administration did not follow through on a promise of no new leasing, and instead, the residents of the Gulf of Mexico are having their resources sold off for bargain prices once again,” said Christian Wagley, coastal organizer at Healthy Gulf. “These new leases lock us into continued dependence on extractive fossil fuels, instead of moving towards a clean and just energy economy that Americans not only want but is a necessity to stave off climate disaster. Furthermore, Gulf communities are tired of being a sacrifice zone, experiencing the effects of climate change first while other regions remain protected from new leases.”
“While we would love to celebrate the news of historically few lease sales, the earth does not recognize political ‘victories,’” said Kendall Dix, national policy director at Taproot Earth. “South Louisiana is currently facing a drinking water crisis right now that is a consequence of salt water intrusion and the climate crisis. As the head of the United Nations and has said, continued fossils fuel development is incompatible with human survival. We need to transition to justly sourced renewable energy that’s democratically managed and accountable to frontline communities as quickly as possible.”
“The Surfrider Foundation is deeply disappointed that the Biden administration plans to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters,” said Dr. Chad Nelsen, CEO of the Surfrider Foundation. “New leases in the 5-year drilling plan will damage our coastlines and communities, while further exacerbating the climate change crisis. We call on the President and Congress to take decisive action to end new offshore drilling forever. This includes canceling new lease sales in the next 5-year plan and passing legislation to permanently protect U.S. coasts from new oil drilling. It’s high time that our federal leaders stop approving new fossil fuel development that will worsen climate change.”
“Biden has once again chosen Big Oil profits over what’s right for the climate and Gulf communities,” said Raena Garcia, senior fossil fuels and lands campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Having squandered this crucial moment to protect our oceans, it’s no wonder he was sidelined at last week’s UN Climate Ambition Summit. No law, not even the Inflation Reduction Act, mandates new drilling, and we are exploring all available strategies in response to BOEM’s deeply disappointing and potentially unlawful move.”
“I feel disgusted and incredibly let down by Biden’s offshore drilling plan. It piles more harm on already-struggling ecosystems, endangered species and the global climate,” said Brady Bradshaw, senior oceans campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We need Biden to commit to a fossil fuel phaseout, but actions like this condemn us to oil spills, climate disasters and decades of toxic harm to communities and wildlife.”
“New fossil fuel development is incompatible with the scale of the climate crisis we face. The Biden Administration’s continued leasing for offshore drilling sacrifices the Gulf South communities that have been subjected to living in the most polluted areas of the nation for decades,” said Zero Hour Policy Director Aaditi Lele. “Decisions like these lock us into decades of oil spills, pollution, and destruction at the hands of Big Oil. The President and Congress must act to phase out all fossil fuels on public lands and waters.”
“This is the last thing we need – and the last place we need it. Gulf waters have never been hotter. Rising seas are swamping the Gulf coast. Louisiana is suffering some of the worst heat, drought and wildfires in the state’s history,” said Manish Bapna, President and CEO of the NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council).“The message from the Gulf is clear. It’s time to break, not deepen, our dependence on the fossil fuels that are driving the climate crisis. It’s time to make federal ocean waters part of the climate fix, not the problem. It’s time to reduce, not increase, offshore drilling that exposes oceans, marine life and coastal communities to catastrophic risk and ongoing harm. It’s time to end the unconscionable health risks that producing, refining and exporting Gulf fuels inflicts on local communities.This plan calls for fewer new offshore leases than previous federal five-year plans. But let’s be clear: oil and gas companies already hold leases to enough of the Gulf of Mexico to cover half the state of Indiana – and to produce oil and gas at current rates for decades. Exposing even more of the Gulf to the risk of a BP-style blowout makes no sense.”
Oceana Vice President for the United States, Beth Lowell, said:
“By failing to end new offshore drilling, President Biden missed an easy opportunity to do the right thing and deliver on climate for the American people. This decision is beyond disappointing, as Americans face the impacts of the growing climate crisis through more frequent and intense fires, droughts, hurricanes, and floods. President Biden is unfortunately showing the world that it’s okay to continue to prioritize polluters over real climate solutions. Expanding dirty and dangerous offshore drilling only exacerbates the climate catastrophe that is already at our doorstep. Unfortunately, it’s our coastal communities who will bear the immediate impact of this shortsighted decision.
Every new drilling lease is a disaster waiting to happen. We know when companies drill, they spill, and offshore disasters impact communities, people, and businesses who rely upon a healthy ocean. Offshore drilling also fuels the climate crisis that will impact every single person living in the United States, but it will be low-income and marginalized groups who are disproportionately impacted. We can’t accept the consequences from President Biden’s failure to act. Congress must immediately reject this proposal during the review period and prevent all new leases on federal waters.”
“A single new lease sale for offshore oil and gas exploration is one too many,” said Sarah Winter Whelan, Executive Director of the Healthy Ocean Coalition. “Communities around the country are already dealing with exacerbating impacts from climate disruption caused by our reliance on fossil fuels. Any increase in our dependence on fossil fuels just bakes in greater impacts to humanity. In addition, the ocean, which absorbs 90% of the heat from our warming planet and a third of the carbon dioxide released into the air, should be seen and treated as a climate solution, not a source for further climate disaster. We call on the Biden Administration and Congress to stop handing our future to Big Oil and focus solely on the just and equitable transition to renewable energy.”
“With this Five-Year Plan, President Biden has sent the message that there is a price tag on our oceans, on our and our grandchildren’s livable futures, on breathing clean air, and on public health. The very culprits of this generation-defining catastrophe, oil giants like Chevron, Exxon, and Shell, will now continue to enjoy the privilege of cashing in on the economic boon and environmental death sentence that is drilling into the ocean floor for the next five years – a time frame critical to preventing the most irreversible consequences of a rapidly heating planet,” said Rachel Carson Council President & CEO Bob Musil. “Scientists, the youth, and the general public agree that if we do not implement ‘immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors’ we will sacrifice our chance of preventing the passage of the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold in the next decade, virtually crystallizing a future of chaos.”
“The ocean offers powerful solutions to fight the climate crisis–drilling for oil and gas is not one of them,” said Jean Flemma, Director of Ocean Defense Initiative. “Ocean, climate, and environmental justice advocates nationwide have been clear that the time has come to stop selling our ocean–and our future–to Big Oil. Any new leasing will perpetuate fossil fuel energy production–at a time when we urgently need to reduce emissions–while unfairly burdening Gulf communities yet again. By scheduling the fewest number of offshore lease sales in history, the Administration has acknowledged the need to transition from dirty, dangerous offshore drilling toward a clean energy future. Now they need to turn that acknowledgment into reality, and end offshore drilling.”
“While President Biden correctly only offered the smallest possible proposed leasing program, even one sale is one too many,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous. “Communities in the central and western Gulf are on the frontlines of climate change, offshore drilling disasters, and the pollution caused by extractive activities. Further leasing only furthers the threats to their homes, their health, and their future. At a time when we should be rapidly moving away from fossil fuels to meet our climate commitments and avert the worst effects of the climate crisis, issuing more oil and gas leases is the last thing we should be doing. Congress must fix these statutory mistakes and end new offshore drilling once and for all.”
“Sacrificing millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas extraction when scientists are clear that we must end fossil fuel expansion immediately is a gross denial of reality by Joe Biden in the face of climate catastrophe,” said Collin Rees, United States Program Manager at Oil Change International. “Doubling down on drilling is a direct violation of President Biden’s prior commitments and continues a concerning trend. Just last week, 75,000 people marched in the streets of New York urging an end to fossil fuels and the United States was blocked from attending the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit due to its dangerous plans to expand oil and gas. The United States is on track to expand fossil fuel production more than any other country by 2050, which is our most crucial window to limit the impacts of warming. Frontline communities, marine ecosystems, and our climate deserve a swift and just end to fossil fuels.”
- Overwhelmingly, voters support preventing new offshore oil and gas leases in the upcoming Five-Year Plan decision, according to recent public opinion research, conducted by Lake Research Partners in March of 2023. The poll found that most voters do not want to expand offshore drilling and instead favor a proposal to not schedule new offshore drilling by a net margin of 16 points. Additionally, two-thirds of voters said they would prefer the administration expand clean energy like wind and solar over offshore drilling for oil and gas. Both national and coastal-states results are available.
- Nearly 1 million people have urged the Biden administration in a new petition to reject new leasing for offshore drilling in the final Five-Year Plan.
A broad and diverse group of people and organizations are united in calling for no new leases in the final Five-Year Program, including numerous U.S. Representatives, over 200 environmental and frontline organizations, 50 scientists, 28 youth organizations, and representatives of 60,000 coastal businesses and entrepreneurs.