Lawsuit filed after Biden opened 79 million acres of Gulf of Mexico for oil

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WASHINGTON – Immediately after the Biden administration’s decision to offer 79 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas lease, environmental and Gulf groups today filed a challenge to the sale of the lease in court.

Earthjustice filed a lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia on behalf of Healthy Gulf, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and the Center for Biological Diversity. It was filed against Home Secretary Deb Haaland and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management following Notice of Lease Sale 257.

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, it is clear that we must do all we can to move away from fossil fuels in order to reduce the impacts of climate change such as stronger and more frequent hurricanes,” said Cynthia Sarthou, Director Healthy Golfe Executive. “Continuing to sell leases that allow business to continue is a bad decision.”

“This lease sale is deeply disappointing. The Biden administration has fallen back on the oil industry based on its campaign of disinformation and political pressure, ignoring the worsening climate emergency we face, ”said Brettny Hardy, lawyer for Earthjustice. “Our planet cannot take any more stress from oil and gas production and yet the Biden administration is moving forward with a lease sale that will impact decades into the future.”

“We will invite more disasters by selling more of the Gulf to the oil industry,” said Kristen Monsell, oceans legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “As Louisiana recovers from this unprecedented extreme hurricane, it is obscene to allow the status quo in offshore leasing. Climate change is rapidly intensifying storms in the Gulf, fueling uncontrollable wildfires in the West and threatening many species with extinction. We must end offshore oil drilling, and not burden future generations with this dirty and dangerous madness. “

“Despite the campaign promising to be champions of climate and environmental justice, the Biden administration has chosen to resume sales of oil and gas leases,” said Hallie Templeton, associate legal director of Friends of the Earth. “To add insult to injury, federal officials violated federal law by relying on outdated and flawed environmental scans while continuing to treat the Gulf of Mexico as a sacrificial area for Big Oil. To say that we are disappointed is an understatement. “

“Frontline Gulf communities have been sacrificed to fossil fuel interests for far too long. As Hurricane Ida ravages the Gulf Coast, it has never been clearer that these communities deserve better than the status quo and a new sale of millions of acres of Gulf waters for oil extraction and gas, ”said Devorah Ancel, senior counsel for the Sierra Club. . “At the very least, the administration has an obligation to assess new information on climate change before taking such reckless action. Failure to do so is completely out of step with President Biden’s stated commitment to addressing the climate crisis in a meaningful way. “

The environmental analysis of the proposed sale relies on incorrect modeling to conclude that not the sale of the lease will result in Following greenhouse gas. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected this approach last year. Just weeks ago, a federal district court in Alaska ruled that the same conclusion was deeply flawed after the Home Office attempted to rely on it again for a major oil development project in the Western Arctic Alaska.

The analysis is not only flawed, but also outdated. The Home Office last examined the environmental impacts of a lease sale in 2017. Since Interior completed its environmental scan, important new information has emerged that demonstrates, among other things, the dire state of the climate crisis and the potential for increased harm to endangered people. species, including Rice’s Whale, one of the most endangered whales on the planet, found only in the Gulf of Mexico.

Background:

The complainant groups had previously sent a letter to Sec. Haaland on the legal alternatives to this lease sale. This letter can be found here: Lettre à Sec. Haaland, et al. groups of plaintiffs on legal alternatives to the hire-purchase offer 257.

Last month, the United Nations asserted that the climate crisis is “unequivocally” the result of human influence and that this influence now has a strong influence on climate and weather extremes. The Gulf region has felt these extremes as just two days ago the region saw one of the strongest and most intensive hurricanes to ever make landfall.

Interior’s own estimates show the sale will result in the production of up to 1.12 billion barrels of oil and 4.2 trillion cubic feet of gas over the next 50 years, contributing to significant emissions of greenhouse gas.

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