New leasing plan keeps Atlantic Ocean off-limits to offshore drilling but offers new areas in the Gulf
WASHINGTON — Today the Biden administration announced its draft five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program for 2022-2027, kicking off a 90-day comment period before the administration will finalize the leasing plan.
While the draft program reflects the intense opposition to opening the Atlantic to offshore drilling by not offering new areas off the Southeast coast, the administration backtracked on previous statements by proposing new offshore drilling leasing in the Gulf of Mexico.
“We are grateful that this proposal protects the Southeast coast from the direct risks of oil spills, but the decision to expand drilling in the Gulf of Mexico unfortunately puts coastal communities in the Gulf at a greater risk and fails to take seriously the threats of climate change,” said Sierra Weaver, senior attorney and leader of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Coast and Wetlands Team. “At a critical point for urgent and bold climate action, it’s very disappointing to see the administration propose more offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico—the part of the country that has most suffered from this risky industry. It’s time to extend full protections to all coastal communities, ocean waters and wildlife, and our climate future by demanding no new drilling anywhere.”
Following a groundswell of coastal opposition to offshore drilling in the Atlantic—all East Coast governors, more than 250 coastal municipalities, and thousands of businesses have opposed drilling in the Southeast—the Obama and Trump administrations reversed plans to open the area to leasing. With opposition to opening the Atlantic a hot topic on the 2020 campaign trail, then President Trump granted 10 years of protection to the coasts of the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida.