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US Dept of Interior Calls Oil & Gas ‘Safe and Responsible’

NEW ORLEANS, LA – Just days after Lousiana coastal residents were told they need to accept living with the threat of oil spills or to move away, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell boasted that today’s oil and gas lease sales for federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico garnered $872,143,771 million in high bids on 329 tracts covering 1,707,358 acres.

At a two-day “Building Resilience Workshop V: Communities on the Edge held Tuesday, officials told local residents that their only options are to ‘move on or move.’

According to Secretary Jewell, the lease sales creates jobs, offers ‘home-grown’ energy, that the exploration and development of oil & gas is safe and responsible and that it will offer energy independence for the United States.

According to Katherine Cirullo, communications assistant for Food & Water Watch, the term “home-grown” is merely a green-washing euphemism for a method of energy extraction that’s dirty, deceptive and short-sited.”

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) offered nearly 40 million acres covering tracts in the Central and Eastern planning areas of the Gulf of Mexico, and opened bids from previously offered acreage in the Western planning area. This is in addition to 60 million acres which were already offered under the Obama Administration’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau, said “The Gulf of Mexico is one of the most productive basins in the world, and the Obama Administration supports the development of our nation’s offshore oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico while protecting the human, marine and coastal environments, and ensuring a fair return to the American people.”

Lease Sale 231 for the Central Planning Area attracted $850,809,921 in high bids on 326 blocks covering 1.7 million acres on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. A total of 50 offshore energy companies participated in submitting 380 bids.

Lease Sale 225, the first of two lease sales proposed for the Eastern Planning Area under the Five Year Program, is the first sale offering acreage in that area since 2008. The sale encompassed 134 whole or partial unleased blocks covering approximately 465,200 acres 125 miles south of eastern Alabama and western Florida. Though the sale did not receive any bids, continued interest in this area is evidenced by ongoing and planned activity on existing leases from past sales as well as from similar activity on existing leases immediately adjacent to this area within the Gulf’s Central Planning Area. The area will be offered to industry again in 2016 under the current Five Year Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

Even if no spill occurs, environmentalists are concerned that emissions from oil and gas production will contribute to climate change, acidification, warming of the oceans and threaten ecosystems.

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to “create a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that will require 25 percent of American electricity be derived from renewable sources by 2025.” In 2011, Obama reitated his “all of the above” strategy for energy, “Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal and natural gas,” he said. “To meet this goal, we will need them all.”

Cirullo said, “President Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy it is not at all a strategy that will combat climate change. It’s a strategy for cozying up to the big corporations, one that will lead this planet down a destructive path toward a climate crisis.”

JD Sullivan

JD Sullivan is the Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Green Action News. He has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism/Mass Communication. JD is passionate about journalism & sustainable living.

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