Proposed Offshore Oil and Gas Program Leaves Pristine Arctic Vulnerable
"As the President commits to climate change goals with the world, and more recently with our Arctic neighbors, removing the Arctic leases would have signified a true commitment to these goals", says Jessica Girard program director at the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. Removing these leases would create a space for a real conversation about economic and energy alternatives for the Arctic and the nation. It is time to commit to the future by removing off-shore leases once and for all."
The Obama administration released a proposed 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The proposal protects the Atlantic Ocean, but leaves the Arctic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico vulnerable to oil and gas drilling. Just last week, the Obama administration jointly pledged with Canada that “commercial activities will occur only when the highest safety and environmental standards are met, including national and global climate and environmental goals," which include moving the Nation as rapidly as possible away from fossil fuels.
And at the State of the Union Address, President Obama acknowledged this imperative:
“Now we've got to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future, especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels.”
In the coming weeks, there will be hearings on the revised draft around the country, offering the public a chance to testify on the proposal. The final plan—expected by December 2016—presents a crucial opportunity for the Obama administration to continue its efforts to protect our coasts, our communities, and our climate by leaving these fossil fuels safely under the sea.
We call on President Obama to take the next step by:
(1) directing Secretary Jewell not to authorize any new offshore leasing in this program;
(2) permanently protect the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from any future oil and gas exploration; and,
(3) propose and enact a plan to transition Gulf communities to a sustainable, renewable energy economy.