The U.S. auctions historic oil & gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico after the climate summit

Highlights:

  • On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced the auction of more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas production. This will be a world-record-breaking offshore lease sale, securing years of climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions
  • The lease auction marks a significant reversal of Biden’s pledge to stop issuing new oil and gas leases on public lands and seas
  • The announcement comes only days after the president pledged to reduce emissions aggressively at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland

The Biggest Auction in the History

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced that more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico will be auctioned off for oil and gas production. This will be a world-record sale of offshore leases, securing years of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

The lease sale is a significant reversal of Biden’s pledge to ban new oil and gas leases on federal lands and seas. This performance takes place just days after the president’s vow to reduce emissions at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

More than 516 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions could be released as a result of the lease sale. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, it is equivalent to the annual emissions of 130 coal-fired power plants or 112 million cars.

“This administration traveled to Scotland to announce that America’s climate leadership has returned. Now it’s about to hand over 80 million acres of public lands in the Gulf of Mexico to fossil fuel firms,” said Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

In January, the president signed an executive order instructing the Secretary of the Interior to put a stop to new oil and gas leases on public lands and seas. The goal is to start a thorough evaluation of existing fossil fuel development permits.

The U.S. Department of Justice is requesting the court to turn over the order of the judge.

The Environmental Support:

Environmental advocacy organizations have sued the administration for failing to take stronger steps to overturn the injunction and for continuing to hold the sale.

Their lawsuit claims that the Interior Department’s environmental review of the Gulf sale in 2017 is incorrect and ignores fresh data demonstrating the growing dangers of pipeline leakage.

“The Biden administration is igniting a big carbon bomb in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Kristen Monsell, the Center for Biological Diversity’s oceans legal director.

The Biden administration certified 332 new drilling permissions on public lands each month, which is comparatively faster than the Trump administration’s 300 permissions each month.

Permits for fossil fuel production are in direct opposition to Biden’s ambitious climate agenda. It also includes a commitment to halve US greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

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