Oil Drilling Lease Fiasco 2022

Glenn Compton
The Department of Interior and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is proposing to lease submerged lands off the coast of Alaska and up to 10 new leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Written comments will be accepted through Oct. 6.

The 5-year offshore oil leasing program will result in far too much-submerged land in the Gulf of Mexico being leased for exploration.  
 
The current oil and gas leasing program has not provided the best way to bring about the lowest level of environmental damage and thwart the tendency of the oil industry to lease more land than can be safely explored and developed.  
 
The oil and gas estimates by the industry have been so highly inaccurate that they are almost meaningless. To depend solely upon the oil industry to supply information about the safety and environmental impacts of their operations is to depend upon the same irresponsible premise that the oil industry will fully identify the amounts and values of mineral resources under their drilling contracts.  

The BOEM will never be able to properly evaluate the costs and risks of offshore drilling without accurate information being supplied by the oil companies. As a result, the BOEM cannot adequately monitor for and control the environmental degradation resulting from offshore leasing activities. 
 
ManaSota-88 supports permanently banning offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf off Florida. There is no need to rush to develop non-renewable natural resources, less environmentally damaging fuels should be used. 
 
Environmental concerns regarding the BOEM leasing program center around oil spills, long-term impacts resulting from routine discharges associated with oil drilling activities and onshore impacts. The ability of the oil industry and the federal government to respond to a major oil spill is questionable at best. 
 
Existing federal regulations do not address the significant damage oil drilling has on the environment. We find no reason to believe the proposed leasing program will protect Florida's economy and environment from the potentially serious environmental damage associated with offshore oil drilling.
 
Oil drilling will place the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, an area of high environmental sensitivity and marine productivity, at risk. Presently, the region supports numerous species of wildlife, major commercial and recreational fisheries, and several species of endangered animals.
 
The fact is, oil that reaches wetlands and estuaries near the Gulf Coast will render these areas uninhabitable to plants and animals. Oil will remain for years, destroying the eggs and larvae of marine organisms, adversely impacting waterfowl, and completely destroying or disrupting food chains. Marine life will be affected in a myriad of poorly understood ways, smothering bottom dwellers, and subtly changing marine and shoreline ecosystems. 
 
A significant environmental impact from even a minor oil spill of 100 barrels or less can cause significant damage. Should oil reach the Gulf Coast, it will render many areas uninhabitable to plants and animals. Petroleum hydrocarbons are extremely toxic even at very low concentrations.
 
Oil and gas drilling is a cradle-to-grave polluting industry, from exploration to drilling and processing to air pollution that is caused when burned. The question should not be whether to expand offshore drilling but how fast America can switch to renewable nonpolluting alternative energy resources. The path away from oil dependency is through increased energy efficiency and conservation, not expanded offshore oil drilling.

There is no evidence to indicate that mitigation measures exist to reduce the significant adverse environmental impacts associated with offshore oil drilling. Until the technology exists to prevent further economic and environmental damage, expanded drilling should not be permitted in the Gulf of Mexico

Comments can also be sent by mail or delivery service. Envelopes should be labeled "Comments for the 2023-2028 National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Proposed Program.” and sent to Ms. Kelly Hammerle, Chief, National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program Development and Coordination Branch Leasing Division, Office of Strategic Resources, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (VAM-LD), 45600 Woodland Road, Sterling, VA 20166-9216.

For information on how to submit those online, 
visit https://bit.ly/3RWncO9 and click on the How to Comment tab.

Glenn Compton is the Chairman of ManaSota 88, a non-profit organization that has spent over 30 years fighting to protect the environment of Manatee and Sarasota counties.

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