As required by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) auctioned oil and gas drilling rights across 73.4 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico despite the Biden administration’s pledge to end new leasing as part of climate change initiatives.
According to BOEM, 32 companies participated in the Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 259, submitting $309,798,397 in total bids. Reuters pointed out that Chevron Corp, ExxonMobil Corp, and BP Plc were among the top bidders.
The Guardian said the size of Lease 259 is comparable in size to Italy.
The auction was a requirement in President Biden’s IRA, which safeguards federal oil and gas leasing and mandates lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico by the end of March.
Revenues received from offshore oil and gas leases will be paid to US Treasury, Gulf Coast states (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama) and local governments, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the Historic Preservation Fund.
The auction comes weeks after Biden authorized a large ConocoPhillips oil project in northwest Alaska.
A little awkward, considering he has pledged during the election campaign: “I guarantee you we’re going to end fossil fuels.”
New oil and gas developments in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska have infuriated climate activists:
“For the first half of his presidency, Joe Biden led on climate with transformative vision but in the second half he seems to be signaling a disastrous climate U-turn,” Ben Jealous, executive director of the Sierra Club and a prominent progressive, said.
For instance, Alaska’s $8 billion Willow oil field development project has a 30-year lifespan. The projects in the Gulf also have years, if not more than a decade, lifespan. The notion that Biden wants to ban oil and gas is ‘malarkey,’ and his staunchest climate supporters are getting wind the president is failing on his word.
“If he’s making a political calculation, he’s making a wrong one. He’s breaking a major promise on drilling and by going back on his word he will inspire many young people to stay at home rather than voting in 2024. His decisions appear to be rooted in the political and economic calculus of the last century, not this one,” Jealous added.