WASHINGTON – Bidding in last week’s Cook Inlet oil and gas lease sale revealed a notable reluctance from the fossil fuel industry to pursue risky development in Alaska waters, despite insistence from Big Oil-friendly legislators that the sale was necessary. The December 30 sale was previously canceled by the Biden administration due to “a lack of industry interest in leasing” and was later reinstated by Congress’ passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Despite being touted as the largest climate bill in U.S. history, the IRA contained numerous damaging provisions for the climate. This includes language reinstating canceled oil and gas lease sales and tying both onshore and offshore renewable energy development to even more lease sales on public lands and waters. Notably, industry already sits on enough onshore fossil fuel leases to last for decades without a new sale.
Nicole Ghio, Senior Fossil Fuels Program Manager at Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement:
Cook Inlet lease sale’s dismal showing proved once again that leaders must prioritize people and the climate over Big Oil profits. The Biden administration was justified in initially canceling this sale, which risks irreparable harm to Alaska’s wildlife, fishing industries and communities.
Sacrificing more of our public lands and waters is grossly irresponsible, especially when we should be rapidly transitioning away from fossil fuels. We encourage policymakers to oppose all new drilling and strongly urge the Biden administration to issue a new Five-Year Plan with no new leases.