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BOEM Cancels Planned Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale

February 16, 2021 by TWN Staff
An offshore oil rig. (Photo via Pixabay)

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Friday cancelled an oil and gas exploration lease sale for a sizable swath of the Gulf of Mexico.

Lease Sale 257, which was scheduled to be live-streamed from New Orleans on March 17, would have been the eighth offshore sale under a five-year policy instituted by the Trump administration in January 2018.

The sale would have included approximately 14,594 unleased blocks – all of the available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The sale was part of a Trump administration plan to open nearly all federal holdings in the Gulf, along the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, and off the coast of Alaska, to oil and gas exploration.

President Joe Biden rescinded Trump’s executive order advancing the policy on Jan. 27.

Shortly thereafter, the Bureau canceled the public meetings and comment period for a planned lease sale in Alaska’s Cook Inlet.

Biden’s order directs the Secretary of the Interior to pause new oil and gas leasing on public lands and offshore waters pending completion of a comprehensive review of Federal oil and gas activities.

“Cancelling this huge offshore Gulf oil auction helps protect our climate and life on Earth. President Biden understands the urgent need to keep this oil in the ground,” said Kristen Monsell,  Oceans Program litigation director with the Center for Biological Diversity.

“This is a great step toward phasing out all offshore drilling and bringing environmental justice to the Gulf Coast and Alaska. We need to help restore coastal communities and marine life,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Energy Alliance, which had supported the lease sale, expressed its disapoointment in the Bureau’s announcement.

“Purposefully causing economic and environmental harm during an economic crisis which directly hurts blue-collar workers, destroys the livelihoods of entire communities across the Gulf, and sends a signal that conservation funding is at risk is wrong,” CEA President David Holt said.

“The long-term ramifications of surrendering our hard-fought efforts to secure our energy independence is one of the most short-sighted and economically and geopolitically naive moves by any U.S. administration in recent history,” Holt said. “America gained its energy independence while proving to the world that record energy production could co-exist alongside record emissions reductions, which we have delivered year after year for two decades.”

“While we disagree with this particular decision, CEA and its members representing farmers, truckers, manufacturers, labor, small business and individual families all across the nation continue to stand ready to work with the administration to secure aggressive environmental progress,” Holt said.

The Bureau said it will publish a Federal Register notice to formally rescind Trump’s order shortly.

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