March 16, 2016
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
cc: The Honorable Sally Jewell, Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior
Abigail Ross Hopper, Director, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
re: Take Action to Cancel Lease Sales 226 and 241 in New Orleans
Dear Mr. President,
We, the undersigned organizations, would like to thank you for your climate leadership in committing the U.S. to strong carbon emissions reduction goals in the Paris Agreement and for pledging to accelerate the transition away from dirty fossil fuels during your State of the Union address. We were encouraged when your administration put a moratorium on new federal coal leases until the climate impacts of the federal coal leasing program are taken into account, and we request that a similar precedent be brought to bear in the Gulf.
Please take action to cancel Lease Sale 226 for the Eastern Planning Area and Lease Sale 241 for the Central Planning Area of the Gulf of Mexico. These sales continue the dangerous disconnect between your administration’s climate goals and the continued leasing of federal lands and waters for fossil fuel extraction. Federal leasing of fossil fuels ensures significant carbon pollution, threatening the very well-being of the communities and wildlife who call the Gulf home. Over 57,000 people have signed an online petition requesting that you cancel these sales.
The science is clear. To maintain a good chance of avoiding catastrophic climate disruption, the vast majority of known fossil fuels must stay in the ground. Impossible to ignore, the Gulf sits on the frontlines of fossil fuel influence and climate disruption. Offshore production in the Gulf accounts for 17 percent of total federal oil production and 5 percent of gas production. Half of our country’s petroleum and natural gas refining capacity also resides along the Gulf Coast. Industry of this scale comes with great costs. Over 10,000 spills have been recorded in the Gulf this decade, and its waters are blighted by some 27,000 abandoned, leaky wells. Coastal wetlands are shrinking by about one football field every hour due to natural subsidence, sea level rise and thousands of miles of canals carved out by oil and gas companies, forcing many residents to permanently relocate.
Nearly six years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Gulf is far from recovered. Fish catches are still down by a third. Oil and dispersant chemicals continue to kill wildlife and impact their reproduction and development. The bottom line is that offshore oil and gas development comes with significant inherent risks that are nearly impossible to avoid or mitigate. While the fossil fuel industry seeks to continue its unchecked expansion, the people of the Gulf and allies across the country are standing up to send a simple message: the Gulf is NOT an energy sacrifice zone and deserves protection for present and future generations to experience and enjoy.
Last September, over 400 organizations and leaders called on your administration to end new federal fossil-fuel leasing. Each new federal fossil fuel lease opens new deposits for development that should be deemed unburnable. An end to new leasing would keep up to 450 billion tons of carbon pollution in the ground and further cement your administration’s commitment to a better future.
For these reasons, we urge you to cancel Lease Sales 226 and 241, scheduled for March 23 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
350 Louisiana – New Orleans
Alabama Coast United
Athens County Fracking Action Network
Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice
Calhoun County Resource Watch
Center for Biological Diversity
Earth Ethics, Inc.
Environmental Justice Task Force, First UUA Church of New Orleans
Fighting Against Natural Gas
Friends of the Earth
Food and Water Watch
Great Old Broads for Wilderness
Gulf Restoration Network
Hands Across the Sand
Idle No More – Gulf Coast
Indigenous Environmental Network
Louisiana Bucket Brigade
Louisiana Environmental Action Network
Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper
Mothers for Sustainable Energy – Gulf Coast
Ocean Conservation Research
Oil Change International
Rainforest Action Network
Science and Environmental Health Network
Sierra Club – Delta Chapter
The Life Support Project
U.S. Climate Plan
Zion Travelers Cooperative Center