Biden caves to green groups, limits offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

 July 26, 2023

President Biden caved to pressure from environmental groups demanding new restrictions on offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The settlement Biden reached Friday with groups including the Sierra Club would exclude 11 million acres of the oil-rich gulf from future lease sales. 

Critics of the deal warn Biden is harming productivity in one of the nation's most significant oil-producing regions, putting energy security at risk.

Biden caves

The settlement was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The Sierra Club, a far-left group, was joined by The Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and Turtle Island Restoration Network.

The case began in 2020, when the plaintiffs sued the federal government over its assessment of the impact of the next 50 years of oil and gas activity in the Gulf.

The environmental groups said the "biological opinion" did not do enough to protect endangered species of marine life. After Biden took power, the federal government said it would form a new assessment.

Under the settlement that Biden reached, oil and gas vessels would be subject to rigorous speed limits to protect an endangered species of whale.

Biden also agreed to bar future lease sales in a stretch of the northern Gulf between the 100 meter and 400-meter isobaths. Industry groups say Biden's climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, made these areas available for drilling.

Targeting fossil fuels

The American Petroleum Institute (API), National Ocean Industries Association and EnerGeo Alliance condemned the new restrictions as an unfair burden that will harm energy independence.

The agreement "places unfounded restrictions on operations in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico that severely hamper America's ability to produce energy in a region that is responsible for the lowest carbon-intensive barrels in the world," the groups said.

"Despite no evidence to warrant this far-reaching ban on operations after extensive data collections, today’s agreement undermines the integrity of legitimate conservation and habitat protection efforts, violates the explicit directives of Congress in enacting the Inflation Reduction Act, and harms America’s energy independence," they added.

As a result of the stay agreement, the parties will halt litigation while the Biden administration completes a new environmental assessment.

Biden released a new rule last week raising the cost of drilling on public lands - further proof that he is prioritizing the climate lobby and its demands over the nation's energy needs.

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