On November 18 the Obama administration released its 5-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing. Although still allowing O&G development from 2017 through 2022 in ten areas of central and western parts of the Gulf of Mexico, the plan no longer allows leasing in Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. The single leasing area outside the Gulf is part of Cook Inlet off the Gulf of Alaska. Dropped from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s draft plan offered in March is the leasing areas in the Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas in 2020 and 2022.
The plan now heads to Congress, with a 60-day waiting period until it becomes final. If President Trump wishes to revise these leasing limits it will probably take several years.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:
“For years, the Arctic Ocean has been left vulnerable to oil drilling that would devastate its pristine waters, Alaska Native villages, and coastal communities, and the marine life these communities depend on. But thanks to the Obama administration’s leadership, the Arctic Ocean, like the Atlantic Ocean earlier this year, will remain protected from fossil fuel development.
“Alaska Native leaders, activists across Alaska and the Lower 48, and the American people made their voices heard — and President Obama listened. We applaud the President and his administration for listening to these calls, safeguarding the Arctic and the Atlantic oceans and helping ensure that the Arctic’s coastal communities may continue their way of life.
“From forging the Paris climate agreement, to the Clean Power Plan, to today’s news that he is protecting the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, President Obama continues to build on a climate legacy without equal, and the Sierra Club will mobilize more forcefully than ever to ensure it remains intact.
“The removal of our waters from offshore drilling plans is paramount to protecting coastal communities in Alaska and across the Eastern and Western seaboards. The action taken today by the Obama administration recognizes this, and we must and we will continue to build on these efforts to ensure all our coastal communities — including the Gulf of Mexico — are protected from the threat offshore drilling presents.”