People in the Gulf are standing together to say no to new oil and gas leasing in our Gulf and yes to clean energy jobs and future that begins with putting an end to the expansion of fossil fuels. You can add your voice and sign-on to the Gulf regional letter to oppose new offshore drilling in our Gulf!
The Obama administration recently released its proposed 5 year offshore drilling plan for 2017 - 2022 - and it spells disaster for the Gulf and for the climate. The plan tentatively schedules ten more lease sales over the next five years that would offer 70 million acres containing an estimated 9.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent, condemning the Gulf as a sacrifice zone for fossil fuel industry for decades.
In March, President Obama announced that the Atlantic has been removed from the federal offshore drilling leasing program leaving the Arctic and Gulf open to new leasing for the next five years. The Director of Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Abigail Ross Hopper, shared with a group of local organizers and activists at the recent public hearing in New Orleans that the opposition from local leaders played an important role in their decision to remove the Atlantic from the program. Many national environmental organizations will be submitting technical public comments for the BOEM leasing program calling for an end to the leasing program and advocating for investments in clean energy, but BOEM and the Obama administration need to hear from us, the residents of the Gulf, as well.
We have reached a very important time in our history to stand together united as a region to say no to the fossil fuel energy and yes to a clean energy economy. Renewable energy is necessary if we are to prevent climate chaos. Climate change, driven primarily by the combustion of fossil fuels, poses a severe and immediate threat to the health, welfare, ecosystems and economy of the United States and the world. In recognition of these threats, the Paris Agreement—adopted by 197 countries, including the United States—codifies the international, scientific consensus that climate change is an “urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet and thus requires the widest possible cooperation by all countries.” The Agreement commits the signatories to hold global average temperature “to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.” This requires rapid and robust emissions reductions. Halting new oil and gas leases off our coasts would keep up to 62 billion tons of carbon emissions in the ground—the pollution equivalent of more than 16,000 coal-fired power plants.
Given our region’s political climate and economic dependence on this dirty industry, we need the courage and leadership of the federal government to put an end to new leasing and position the Gulf to benefit from the clean energy economy. The Gulf economy should not be left out of this inevitable transition. Our region supplies more than 25 percent of the nation’s energy, and this should continue as we transition away from fossil fuels to renewables.
Our region has been the sacrifice zone for too long. We have spent years fighting the fossil fuel industry trying to get them to reduce pollution and stop poising our land, water, and bodies. The industry has never listened, and now we see a better way. It is time for us to protect our communities, restore our ecosystems and defend our cultures from the perils of extractive industries, not invest further in them. Together, we can give the Gulf a future, which starts by ending all new leases for oil and gas industries and building a just and sustainable energy infrastructure.