The D.C. District Court in the US has invalidated the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, citing climate change impact.
Under the lease sale 257, the DOI offered 80 million offshore acres, in the Gulf of Mexico, last November. It generated sales of approximately $190m on 1.7 million acres and attracted bids from US oil majors including Chevron and Exxon Mobil.
The Judge Rudolph Contreras of the US District Court of the District of Columbia, however, determined that the DOI did not accurately disclose and failed to consider the lease sale’s greenhouse gas emissions, violating a bedrock environmental law.
The decision follows a lawsuit filed by non-profit Earthjustice, in August 2021, against DOI and the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), following the notice of lease sale 257.
In the lawsuit, the petitioners claimed that the 2017 environmental analysis, on the basis of which the sale was conducted, was ‘fatally flawed’.
The sale does not comply with the administration’s aim to reduce 50% to 52% of carbon emissions by 2030, according to Earthjustice.
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Earthjustice senior attorney Brettny Hardy said: “We simply cannot continue to make investments in the fossil fuel industry to the peril of our communities and increasingly warming planet. This administration must meet this critical moment and honour the campaign promises President Biden made, by stopping offshore leasing once and for all.
“Interior should use its next five-year leasing plan to protect our coastal communities and public waters and offer no new offshore leases. We can no longer afford to do anything less.”
The lease sale offered an estimated 15,148 unleased blocks, located three to 231 miles offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central, and Eastern planning areas.
According to a Reuters report, the DOI is currently reviewing the court decision.
Earlier this month, Subsea 7 received a contract for the Shenandoah development, in the Gulf of Mexico.