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For Immediate Release


Brittany Miller:

Press Release

Report: Big Oil Makes Billions While Society Shoulders Staggering Costs of Public Lands and Waters Drilling

Public oil and gas development would unleash at least $22.95 trillion of damage, imperiling a livable future for communities and the planet

Today, Friends of the Earth released a new analysis exposing the true social cost of carbon if the Biden administration continues allowing Big Oil to drill in our public lands and waters. This comes as the administration announced last week it would release a new five-year offshore drilling plan before June 30, when the current program expires, and is preparing to hold its first onshore lease sales next month.

The analysis used both the Biden administration’s social cost of carbon ($51/metric ton) and a metric from Applied Economics ($100/metric ton) to find:

  • In 2021, public oil and gas development cost society between $23.4 billion and $46 billion, far outweighing the $9.6 billion in tax revenue.
  • Current onshore and offshore public leases would cost society between $2.19 trillion and $4.3 trillion if developed.
  • Potential federal oil and gas development would cost society between $22.95 trillion and $45 trillion if developed.

Although the American Petroleum Institute (API) and National Ocean Industry Association (NOIA) warned that any delay in the Biden administration’s new five-year offshore leasing plan would result in dire economic consequences, based on their own figures:

  • A new five-year offshore leasing plan would cost society between $20.8 billion and $40.8 billion annually and result in 2.6 to 5 times more annual social costs than the projected revenue for state and local governments.

“Biden needs to remove his oil-tinted glasses and start treating oil and gas development with the extreme caution it deserves,” said Hallie Templeton, Legal Director at Friends of the Earth. “Our sheer survival shouldn’t come second to Big Oil’s profits. If the administration is serious about staving off the worst of the climate catastrophe, the only road forward is no new leases.”

The social cost of carbon is used to estimate the economic damages of adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Fossil fuel development not only costs society trillions in the form of air and water pollution, climate change, and other environmental degradation, but is also associated with public health problems such as cancer, asthma, and temperature-related deaths.


Friends of the Earth fights for a more healthy and just world. Together we speak truth to power and expose those who endanger the health of people and the planet for corporate profit. We organize to build long-term political power and campaign to change the rules of our economic and political systems that create injustice and destroy nature.

Naomi Klein: The US Is in the Midst of a 'Shock-and-Awe Judicial Coup'

"The rolling judicial coup coming from this court is by no means over," warned the author of "The Shock Doctrine."

Jake Johnson ·

Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·

Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·

Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·

'Payoff for 40 Years of Dark Money': Supreme Court Delivers for Corporate America

"It was the conservative court's larger agenda to gut the regulatory state and decimate executive powers to protect Americans' health and safety," warned one expert.

Jake Johnson ·

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