April 18, 2023 – Leading up to the 13th anniversary of one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history — the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill — Oceana is calling on President Joe Biden to lead on climate change and honor his campaign promise to prevent new offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. waters. In a new report released today, Oceana outlines how the president can still deliver on this commitment of no new leases for offshore drilling, despite mandates in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
The report finds that President Biden can still prevent new oil and gas leases in 2024 and beyond through his decision on the Five-Year Plan, and he can also exceed his goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind development by 2030. The report also finds that offshore drilling remains dirty and dangerous, with significant safety shortcomings that will not prevent another disaster like the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“More than two years into his presidency, Biden has yet to uphold his promise on offshore drilling,” said Diane Hoskins, campaign director at Oceana. “Continued leasing for dirty fossil fuels harms our health, pollutes our air and our environment, and exacerbates the climate crisis while worsening environmental injustice plaguing marginalized communities along the coast. President Biden must lead on climate, and that starts with preventing new leases for offshore drilling.”
Oceana’s report highlights that the oil industry currently holds more than 2,000 leases for offshore drilling, totaling more than 11 million acres of ocean. However, 75% of those acres, totaling 8 million (more than six times the size of Delaware), are currently unused. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is already on track to exceed its goal of developing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, which is enough energy to power 10 million homes and will support 77,000 jobs.
Just last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported the urgency of the situation, with Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres stating that leaders of developed countries must commit to “stopping any expansion of existing oil and gas reserves.” Yet, the United States is not heeding that plea for climate action. The IRA, which was passed by Congress in 2022, mandates several lease sales in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico in 2022 and 2023. Oceana says President Biden can still prevent new oil and gas leases in 2024 and beyond through the five-year planning process, which is expected to be finalized in September 2023, while meeting his goal of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind development by 2030.
“It’s as if we learned nothing from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster,” said Hoskins. “We know that when oil companies drill, they spill. It’s not a matter of if there will be another spill, but when. And those spills bring immediate economic and environmental devastation to our coastal communities.”
The Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 workers and gushed more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, where it polluted 1,300 miles of coastline from Texas to Florida, killed hundreds of thousands of animals, and sickened cleanup workers. A government study estimated losses to the commercial seafood industry at nearly $1 billion and coastal tourism and recreation suffered a $500 million loss. But Oceana says this is not an isolated incident. In the United States alone, there were more than 6,000 oil spills between 2010 and 2020 — an average of almost two spills every day.
“President Biden has a window now — where he can both abide by the Inflation Reduction Act and honor his campaign commitment — by issuing a Five-Year Plan that includes no new offshore oil and gas leases,” said Hoskins.
Most American voters do not want to expand offshore drilling, according to a recent poll released by the coalition group Protect Our Coast, which includes local and national environmental, business, and faith groups that advocate for the prevention of new offshore drilling leases. The poll found that voters support a proposal to prevent new leases for offshore drilling by a net margin of 16 points. Additionally, two-thirds of voters said they would prefer the administration increase clean energy like wind and solar over offshore drilling for oil and gas.
Click here for more detailed poll results.
Download the report, A Simple Solution: How President Biden Can Meet Offshore Clean Energy Goals and Prevent New Offshore Drilling.
For more information about Oceana’s efforts to stop the expansion of offshore drilling, please click here. Learn more about the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster here.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 275 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles, whales, and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit Oceana.org to learn more.