Environmentalists are going to court over the Biden administration’s sale of oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico after yet another climate-driven hurricane has devastated the region.
The Department of Interior announced last week that it is opening up 80 million acres for oil and gas drilling. The government estimates that the sale will produce 1.12 billion barrels of oil over the next 50 years.
Earthjustice, an environmental legal non-profit is leading the action on behalf of a number of conservation groups against Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
The environmentalists argue in their filing that the environmental analysis that accompanied the oil and gas sale is outdated and hasn’t taken the most recent data on the climate crisis into account.
The lawsuit comes days after Hurricane Ida barreled into the Gulf states of Louisiana and Mississippi. The storm left at least seven people dead, destroyed hundreds of buildings and left more than a million people without power.
A recent, authoritative report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that global warming, largely caused by the burning of fossil fuels, is likely making storms more destructive.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, it is clear that we need to be doing everything we can to transition away from fossil fuels to reduce the impacts of climate change such as stronger, more frequent hurricanes,” Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of Healthy Gulf, one of the parties to the lawsuit, said in a statement.
“Continuing to sell leases that allow business as usual is a bad decision.”
President Joe Biden has set goals of creating a clean energy power sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy by no later than 2050.
The Independent has contacted the Department of Interior for comment.