Cook Inletkeeper today applauded the decision by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to cancel public hearings around the proposed million-acre Oil & Gas Lease Sale 258 in Lower Cook Inlet. BOEM’s move comes in the wake of President Biden’s January 27 Executive Order placing a pause on all oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.
“It’s refreshing to see science coming back into our federal decision making,” said Bob Shavelson, Inletkeeper Advocacy Director. “Local people and businesses have opposed the industrialization of Lower Cook Inlet for decades, and BOEM has taken an important first step to heed those concerns.”
While BOEM’s move today cancels public hearings around Lease Sale 258, it does not cancel the sale itself, which is now on pause until the Biden Administration conducts a review of oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.
BOEM has a legal mandate to promote renewable energy in federal waters, but it has historically favored oil and gas development and has yet to pursue the incredible tidal and wind resources in Lower Cook Inlet.
“BOEM has an opportunity to create good, lasting jobs and clean energy alternatives in Lower Cook Inlet that won’t upend our strong fishing and tourism economies,” Shavelson said.
In a remarkable disconnect between science and policy, BOEM announced Lease Sale 258 just as federal managers closed the Pacific cod fishery in Lower Cook Inlet last year – citing, for the first time ever, climate change as the culprit behind low population numbers.
“Alaska is already reeling from the effects of climate change, and we have to break the Big Oil stranglehold if we want to keep the things that make Alaska unique,” Shavelson said.