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Offshore Drilling Plan Excludes NC

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has announced its proposed five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing. The good news? No plans for drilling off the Carolina coast. The bad news? Spots in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet are still on the table.

“Like the current program finalized in 2016, it removes from consideration the federal waters off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts while inviting public comment on 10 potential sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the Cook Inlet off south-central Alaska. A proposed program is not a decision to issue specific leases or to authorize any drilling or development,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “From Day One, President Biden and I have made clear our commitment to transition to a clean energy economy. Today, we put forward an opportunity for the American people to consider and provide input on the future of offshore oil and gas leasing. The time for the public to weigh in on our future is now.”

“We are thrilled the Biden Administration has listened to the bipartisan opposition to drilling off our state’s beautiful shores,” said Montravious King, our Clean Energy Campaigns Director. “But we stand with Gulf Coast and Alaskan neighbors in urging BOEM to refrain from issuing drilling permits anywhere. Oil spills know no borders, and drilling anywhere is a threat to our environment everywhere. The future is clean energy, and continuing to rely on dirty fossil fuels will not lower gas prices or help us meet this urgent imperative to fulfill the president’s climate goals.”

Other conservation advocates made similar calls for eliminating all new offshore oil and gas leasing. “We are grateful that this proposal protects the Southeast coast from the direct risks of oil spills, but the decision to expand drilling in the Gulf of Mexico unfortunately puts coastal communities in the Gulf at a greater risk and fails to take seriously the threats of climate change,” said Sierra Weaver, senior attorney and leader of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Coast and Wetlands Team. “At a critical point for urgent and bold climate action, it’s very disappointing to see the administration propose more offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico—the part of the country that has most suffered from this risky industry. It’s time to extend full protections to all coastal communities, ocean waters and wildlife, and our climate future by demanding no new drilling anywhere.” 

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