Obama Abandons Gulf of Mexico in Offshore Drilling Plan

November 18, 2016

Contact:Virali Modi-Parekh, Rainforest Action Network, 510-747-8476

Obama Abandons Gulf of Mexico in Offshore Drilling Plan

Today, President Obama released the next five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing, which largely blocks drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic, but continues business-as-usual leasing in the Gulf of Mexico. Issuing only one lease in the Arctic is a significant win for Arctic and Alaskan communities and a strong step towards addressing climate change. However, the plan continues to put Gulf communities in harm’s way and to deepen U.S. dependence on fossil fuels that are driving the global climate crisis. Rainforest Action Network is deeply disappointed that the Administration has chosen to continue to offer the Gulf of Mexico to corporate interests, rather than protect this critical cultural and ecological region for future generations.

“This move locks the Gulf into another five years of corporate giveaways – with decades more of climate pollution, offshore oil spills, devastation to fisheries, and health impacts to local communities. A true transition from fossil fuels doesn’t allow for energy sacrifice zones, especially when we know the climate can’t handle further fossil fuel development. Along with the Arctic and the Atlantic, we need permanent protection for all our coasts to have a fighting chance at stabilizing the climate,” said Lindsey Allen, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network

“Congratulations to all of those, especially the indigenous communities, who have fought for this Arctic victory for so long. We celebrate their victory from down here in the Gulf of Mexico. And we add this: this victory is not complete and will not be complete until drilling is ended everywhere. The Gulf Coast is now the national sacrifice zone for drilling. We will push harder than ever to end drilling. We will win because we are right. We cannot burn this oil and remain on the planet,” said Anne Rolfes, Founding Director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

The Gulf of Mexico has long been an epicenter for the U.S. fossil fuel industry, devastated by oil companies’ negligence in the past. The Gulf states continue to feel the impacts of the largest offshore disaster in history, British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon spill, which killed 11 people and spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the fragile Gulf ecosystem. More recently, many residents are still cleaning their homes and clearing their communities of wreckage due to unprecedented flooding in August – exacerbated by climate change. Hundreds of Gulf residents have protested offshore lease sales this past March and August, where several have been arrested for participating in nonviolent direct action. In addition, over 1.4 million comments were submitted to the Obama Administration to end offshore drilling. Given the U.S. pledge in Paris to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees, the country must leverage every opportunity possible to keep fossil fuels in the ground, including offshore.  As the nation prepares for a transition into truly unknown territory with an incoming administration that has openly embraced outdated and dirty energy models, we call on President Obama to do as much as he can to help protect our public waters, lands, and the climate.