We have spent years fighting the fossil fuel industry trying to get them to reduce pollution and stop poising our land, water, and bodies. The industry has never listened, and now we see a better way. It is time for us to protect our communities, restore our ecosystems and defend our cultures from the perils of extractive industries, not invest further in them. Together, we can give the Gulf a future, which starts by ending all new leases for oil and gas industries and building a just and sustainable energy infrastructure.
Will you join us in telling Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Department of Interior, and the Obama Administration no new leases in the Gulf by signing on in support of a joint letter?
Complete the form below to sign by June 15, 2016 (PDF version http://bit.ly/25zGona)
You’re also welcome to write your own comments on the five year plan: https://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=BOEM-2016-0003-0001 (comments due June 16, 2016)
Feel free to be in touch with questions to email@example.com
We submit this joint letter as the people living on the Gulf Coast who are concerned about the preservation of our home and culture, the health of our families and the future of our planet. We are mothers, fathers, grandparents, family, and friends of those that have lost their lives and livelihoods as a result of the dangerous and unaccountable oil and gas industry. We are people living in communities with refineries, storage facilities, toxic waste sites, pipelines, and oil trains in our backyards being poisoned daily by toxic releases. We are people living in coastal communities that continue to be hit by climate disasters- super storms like Katrina and severe flooding. We are people living in areas where our land is sinking, our coastlines are eroding, and our seas are rising because of extreme energy extraction. We are people living in our nation’s sacrifice zones where communities continue to fight oppressive government policies that have built the world’s most powerful companies while living in the nation’s poorest socioeconomic conditions.
We, the people of the Gulf, urge BOEM to think more critically about your decision to put our health and livelihoods, the preservation of our local cultures, and the future of our planet at risk for the sake of future jobs that could be replaced with supply side policies that expand investment in renewable energy technology.
Economic ImpactThe Bureau’s assessment of the costs and benefits of the next 5 year leasing plan overestimates the benefits of offshore drilling and fails to take into account all of the costs. The proposed plan does not take into account the $37 billion in federal subsidies given to the oil and gas industry annually and other hidden costs, including infrastructure spending, military expenditures, and costs from climate change. According to Oil Change International, the overall hidden costs are estimated to be between $360 billion and $1 trillion, at least rivaling or far exceeding the hundreds of billions of dollars the fossil fuel industry is reported to contribute to our economy. Environmental Justice ImpactThe proposal also does not account for cumulative impacts of multiple environmental and public health risks and exposures caused by offshore drilling and the supporting industries. The Gulf produces and refines nearly two times as much as we consume, more than any other part of our country. We have over 40 environmental justice communities defined by the Environmental Protection Agency living near offshore drilling and other related industrial activities. Many of these communities are exposed to toxic pollutants and carcinogens on a daily basis, and as a result have disproportionately higher rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses and cancer.
Climate ChangeIt is irresponsible to auction over 70 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico so that oil and gas companies can drill up to 9.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent over the next 70 years knowing that it will only deepen the climate crisis and reverse course on President Obama’s commitment to combat climate change. By BOEM’s own accounts, the expansion will lead to 445 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the level the US committed to in order to prevent runaway climate change. We are particularly concerned given that coastal communities living in the Gulf of Mexico will be among the most heavily impacted by climate change globally.
Additional risks associated with current and imminent climate disruption are also not part of BOEM’s cost benefit analysis. For example, the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe of Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana are the first climate refugees in the Gulf and cost the federal government $48 million. The families living there have been there for more than a century. Chief Albert Naquin of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe, shared with New York Times reporter, “We’re going to lose all our heritage, all our culture. It’s all going to be history.”
Corporate AccountabilityIt is insulting to those who have lost their lives and to communities that continue to suffer as result of the grossly negligent actions of BP that BOEM does not factor in the risks of catastrophic offshore drilling disasters and assumes the oil and gas industry is an accountable and responsible party despite the history of underreporting oil spills (Samira Daneshgar Asl of Florida State University), the significant infrastructure damage the industry has failed to repair, and past negligent and immoral behavior. The Bureau further asserts that the impact is equitable because the industry pays fair restitution for damages. We know this to be untrue. Many local fishing communities and the cleanup workers of the BP drilling disaster have not been paid fair restitution for their losses and have been denied any medical claims for oil and chemical exposure.
Renewable Energy GenerationFinally, the five-year proposed plan does not include in its assessment the potential for renewable offshore energy and assumes the inevitability of expansion of offshore drilling in the Gulf. The no leasing option would send market signals that accelerate the transition to clean energy, a point supported by the Stockholm Environmental Institute, and not considered by the Bureau. Leaving the Gulf in the 5-year plan strengthens the foothold the oil and gas industry has in our region and consequently denies the people living in the Gulf the opportunity to benefit from the growing renewable energy economy.
The environmental injustices our communities have endured for generations as a result of the narrow pursuit of dirty energy warrants putting an end to the expansion of offshore drilling. We no longer have to choose between jobs and healthy, just, and sustainable communities. We demand that BOEM, the Department of Interior, and the Administration put an end to new offshore drilling and provide a path for the Gulf to benefit from the growth of the renewable energy economy - because by our accounts, the costs of continuing to lease to the oil and gas industry far exceeds the benefits.