Federal Judge Blocks Sale of Gulf of Mexico Drilling Lease for Defective Impact Analysis

A federal judge has ruled that the environmental reviews that underpinned the sale of offshore oil and gas drilling leases over approximately 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico were flawed.

In the judgment on January 27 (pdf), Washington’s U.S. District Judge Rudolf Contreras said the U.S. Department of Interior’s Department of Marine Energy Management (BOEM) was unable to accurately assess the impact of leasing on climate change-related greenhouse gas emissions. rice field.

Judgment invalidates BOEM Lease sale 257Offered approximately 80 million acres of offshore sales, with approximately 1.7 million acres sold at auction last November, generating more than $ 190 million in revenue.

Contreras’s opposition analysis shows that if unsold leases, the impact on climate will actually be exacerbated, as production by foreign oil companies that do not meet the same high standards as US companies will increase.

Environmental groups have appealed for the sale of the lease, challenged the calculation, argued that “this counterintuitive conclusion is the result of certain false assumptions,” and called the assessment an “error” and a “serious failure.” is.

“By excluding foreign consumption from emission analysis, BOEM concludes that it is in direct tension with its findings in the exact same report that action-free alternatives result in a significant reduction in foreign consumption. Has been reached, “the judge wrote.

“It wasn’t a rational action BOEM took here to move forward with the blindfold on,” he added.

Brettny Hardy, a senior lawyer at Earthjustice, one of the groups that challenged the sale, expressed satisfaction with the decision.

“We are pleased that the court has invalidated the illegal rental sale of interiors,” Hardy said. Said in a statement..

“This administration has reached this crucial moment and must respect the campaign that President Biden promised to stop offshore leasing altogether,” Hardy added.

During the campaign, President Joe Biden vowed to end federal oil and gas drilling to combat climate change, but efforts to suspend the new auction failed after the Gulf Coast appealed.

The offshore drilling industry has opposed Contreras’s ruling.

“In an era of geopolitical uncertainty and rapidly rising energy prices, US oil and gas production is more important than ever to curb inflation and strengthen national security,” he said. Eric Milito, Chairman of the National Marine Industry Association, said. Said in a statement..

“Uncertainty about the future of the US federal offshore program may only increase the geopolitical impact of high-emissions and hostile countries such as Russia,” he added.

Interior Ministry Spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz Said in a statement Authorities are considering the decision, adding that they “documented the serious flaws in the federal oil and gas program” and that “long-term” reforms of the program are needed.

Tom Ojimek


Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communication, and adult education. The best writing advice he has ever heard is from Roy Peter Clarke.