Three hundred and ten environmental justice, climate, conservation, public health, indigenous, faith-based and community organizations sent an “emergency petition” this week to Debra Haaland, Secretary of the US Department of the Interior. The groups are looking to halt new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
They want the Department of the Interior “to immediately stop approving new exploration plans, new development and operations coordination documents and new drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico unless and until the Bureaus [i.e., the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement] comply with NEPA [the National Environmental Policy Act] and properly analyse the climate impacts of approving new oil and gas drilling activity.”
The petition says that, “rather than taking the bold action necessary to address the climate emergency, in November 2021, the Biden administration held the largest oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history – offering up more than 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to the oil industry. This decision was not only a spectacular failure of climate leadership, it was also unlawful.”
A federal judge in January rejected the administration’s plan to lease the 80m acres, saying that the Interior Department did not fully consider the climate impacts of the leases.
“Granting the petition will help protect our climate, wildlife, and frontline communities while the administration develops a plan to phase out fossil fuel extraction in federal waters,” say the petition’s signatories.