Energy & Environment

Environmental groups sue Biden administration over offshore oil lease sale

FILE – A rig and supply vessel are pictured in the Gulf of Mexico, off the cost of Louisiana on April 10, 2011. A judge’s order that forced the Biden administration to resume sales of oil and gas leases on federal land and waters was vacated on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, by a federal appeals court in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

A coalition of environmental organizations on Monday announced a lawsuit against the Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM), arguing the bureau’s sales of leases in the Gulf of Mexico were unlawful.

In the lawsuit, plaintiffs argued BOEM’s plans to lease more than 70 million acres of Gulf waters for fossil fuel development are based on a “deeply flawed” environmental review. The Biden administration had previously canceled the lease sales due to contradictory court rulings, but following a provision negotiated by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in the Inflation Reduction Act requiring the sales, they are set for March 28.

The lawsuit argues the BOEM environmental impact statement failed to properly incorporate risks from factors such as oil spills and ship strikes and that it did not properly assess the risks from greenhouse gas emissions. The plaintiffs also charge that, in violation of the National Environmental Protection Act, the EIS only evaluated the leasing of “almost all available areas” in the Gulf waters rather than considering a smaller-scale alternative.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include national organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, EarthJustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as local advocacy groups including Healthy Gulf and Bayou City Waterkeeper.

“Holding this offshore oil lease sale without careful environmental review is both unlawful and morally reprehensible,” said Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “More oil drilling in the Gulf is too big a risk for the communities and wildlife living there, and too harmful to the climate. The Biden administration needs to end new extraction, phase out drilling, and start taking its commitment to climate action seriously.”

An Interior Department spokesperson declined to comment.

The Biden administration initially barred all new oil and gas drilling on federal lands and waters, but resumed leasing activity in spring of 2022.

Updated 4:54 p.m.

Tags Gulf of Mexico Joe Biden Joe Manchin oil and gas leases

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video