Biden administration sets November date for Gulf lease sale canceled in February
The Biden administration on Thursday announced a November oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, months after a federal court blocked its moratorium on new federal lease sales.
The lease sale will comprise about 15,135 blocks in a range of 3 to 231 miles offshore and depths ranging from 9 to more than 11,000 feet.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said in a statement that the leases will include stipulations to protect threatened species and avoid potential conflicts with other activities in the Gulf. The BOEM also resolved to press on with a “comprehensive review of the deficiencies associated with its offshore and onshore oil and gas leasing programs.”
As one of his first acts in office, President Biden announced a moratorium on new leases on federal lands for oil and gas drilling. However, a federal judge in June ordered a temporary hold on the moratorium. The Interior Department said it would appeal the decision but comply with it in the meantime.
BOEM had previously announced it would make a decision on the lease sale in question by the end of September after it was initially canceled in February.
Despite these caveats, environmental and progressive groups were sharply critical of the announcement.
“President Biden is doing Donald Trump’s bidding today. This lease sale will be devastating for the Earth’s climate, and set America back years on our path to a climate solution,” Center for Western Priorities Deputy Director Aaron Weiss said in a statement. “Next month, President Biden will travel to Glasgow for the UN climate conference, where he will encourage other countries to do as he says, not as he does. Just days later, he will set the timer on a carbon bomb in the Gulf of Mexico.”
“The oil lobby is spending millions of dollars on lawsuits, misinformation, and efforts to influence decision-makers, with the goal of putting profits above all else,” added Jenny Rowland-Shea, deputy director for public lands at the Center for American Progress. “The Biden administration must take back control of its federal oil and gas program and end this inconsistent and harmful approach to managing the country’s public lands and ocean.”