For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Expert contact: Marissa Knodel, (202) 222-0729,

Communications contact: Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744,

Obama Administration Gifts Outer Continental Shelf to Oil and Gas Interests

WASHINGTON - The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management today released the draft 2017-2022 program for new oil and gas leasing on the Outer Continental Shelf. The current five-year program, set to expire in 2017, opened 219 million acres in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas leasing. The new program offers 10 new leases in the Gulf of Mexico, three off the coast of Alaska, and, for the first time, one off the coasts of Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia in the Atlantic Ocean. The White House simultaneously announced that it will permanently withdraw 9.8 million acres of sensitive biological areas from offshore drilling in the American Arctic Ocean. The agency acknowledged that certain areas in the Arctic Ocean are “too special” to develop, but remains committed to “safe and responsible” offshore drilling.

Friends of the Earth Climate campaigner, Marissa Knodel, issued the following statement in response:

Despite the major safety, environmental and climate impacts caused by oil and gas drilling, the Obama administration continues to place our oceans and coastal communities at risk from harmful seismic blasts, oil spills, and climate disruption.


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The new program could result in the death of hundreds of thousands of marine mammals from air guns used for seismic oil and gas exploration. Even after a series of accidents forced Shell Oil and several other companies to cancel their Arctic drilling plans in 2013, the Obama administration is willing to let them proceed. Drilling is moving forward without implementation of the 2011 National Oil Spill Commission’s recommendations for improving offshore drilling safety, increasing the likelihood of another Exxon Valdez or BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Proponents of new oil and gas drilling deliberately disregard scientific warnings that we must keep at least two-thirds of the world’s remaining carbon reserves in the ground in order to stabilize the climate below 2 degrees Celsius. A recent study published in Nature found that any oil and gas drilling in the Arctic will lead to climate catastrophe.

New oil and gas leasing on our nation’s Outer Continental Shelf will cook our climate, kill our wildlife, weaken our economy and threaten the resilience of coastal communities. To leave a positive climate legacy, the Obama administration must advocate for energy efficiency and invest in renewable energy instead of leasing our future to the oil and gas industry.


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Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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