On Wednesday, the Biden administration said that it would auction off more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling, setting a new record for offshore lease sales that will lock in years of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. The lease auction is a significant reversal of Biden pledge to stop issuing new oil and gas leases on public lands and seas. Moreover, it comes just days after the president’s pledge to reduce emissions at the United Nations climate meeting in Glasgow, Scotland.
More than 516 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions could be released into the environment due to the lease sale, which is the equivalent of 130 coal-fired power plants or 112 million cars. In January, the president signed an executive order instructing the Secretary of the Interior to freeze new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and seas and conduct a comprehensive review of existing fossil fuel development permits.
However, in June, a federal court in Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction to stop the administration’s ban and ordered that lease sale for Gulf and Alaska waters that had been postponed begin. The Justice Department has asked an appeals court to reject the judge’s decision. In addition, environmental advocacy organizations have sued the administration for failing to take more vital 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 new data demonstrating the growing dangers of pipeline leakage. Thus, in the Gulf of Mexico, the Biden administration is igniting a gigantic carbon bomb. In the aftermath of the climate summit, it’s difficult to imagine a more dangerous or hypocritical action.