November 10, 2021
President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
RE: Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Lease Sale 257
Dear President Biden:
The undersigned 267 Indigenous, frontline, environmental, business, political, and social justice organizations write with an urgent plea to cancel Lease Sale 257 in the Gulf of Mexico so the Department of Interior can consider the latest scientific evidence on climate change and the impacts of lease sales to the Gulf’s environment, wildlife, and communities, as it is legally required to do. You promised to address the climate crisis with the urgency it deserves, and in Glasgow, you assured the world that your plans to cut emissions are a fait accompli, not mere rhetoric. Selling more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas development just days after the international climate talks makes a mockery of those commitments.
The sale shockingly offers more area than the Trump Administration initially proposed and ranks as the largest offshore lease sale in U.S. history. Ironically, the lease sale was announced as the deadly Hurricane Ida made landfall on the Louisiana coast, wreaking havoc on the same frontline communities your Administration committed to help heal by stopping the deep-rooted injustices perpetrated by the oil and gas industry and helping build clean, sustainable local economies. Reversing course on climate change must start here, and it must start now.
In deciding to hold Lease Sale 257, your administration relied on outdated and irrational environmental analysis. Lease Sale 257 will result in the production of up to 1.12 billion barrels and 4.4 trillion cubic feet of fossil fuels over the next 50 years. However, your administration outrageously concluded that the sale will not contribute to climate change. The decision documents also failed to account for significant new information on climate change and impacts of drilling activity on frontline communities and protected species. Your administration has existing authority to defer Lease Sale 257, correct these unlawful assumptions, and revisit the decision to lease more of the Gulf to drilling.
The Gulf of Mexico continues to be treated as a sacrificial zone to oil and gas development, disproportionately harming local communities already at the frontlines of climate disaster, wreaking havoc on the environment, and contributing to global climate change. The region’s communities are frontline Black, Indigenous and people of color and low-income families who have been living with degraded air, land, and water for decades. It is beyond time that the federal government stops ignoring this grave injustice.
There is still time to keep your promise to end new leases on public lands and waters and address environmental racism. Please utilize your existing authority and defer Lease Sale 257 to reckon with the latest evidence and properly estimate and acknowledge the full range of impacts from lease sales in this region. We welcome your response. To arrange further dialogue with the signers, please contact Hallie Templeton, Legal Director and Senior Campaigner at Friends of the Earth ([email protected]).
See Attached for All Signatories
A broad coalition of groups supporting clean air announced the collection of 3 million public comments in support of national standards to limit dangerous industrial carbon pollution from new power plants.