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Stand to Protect Lower Cook Inlet: www.tinyurl.com/LeaseSale258
Update: Since the time Inletkeeper wrote this article, the Biden Administration has announced that the agency will proceed with the draft EIS process as directed by the judge in Louisiana. First, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will update the draft EIS that was rushed through in a record 4 months by the Trump Administration. We expect to see the updated draft EIS either in October or November followed by a 45-day notice and comment period–including public hearings. After that, BOEM must consider all the comments before issuing a Final EIS (if appropriate) and proceeding with a notice of sale (again if appropriate). Assuming all of those things were to happen, a lease sale could occur in late spring 2022.
We know that “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land” as stated by the IPCC in their 6th assessment. We know that we must reduce our CO2 emissions–and that we need to do it as soon as possible. We know that we are overloading the systems that have tried to help absorb all the carbon we have released. We know that global temperature has already risen 1.8 degrees F (or 1 degree C)⎯⎯and Alaska’s temperature has risen between 3 and 6 degrees. We know that the cod fishery in the Inlet was closed due to the impacts of climate change. We know that there has been an increase in large scale wildfires and melting glaciers.
So the question remains: why is our government doubling down on non-renewable energy sources⎯⎯releasing carbon that is safely stored deep underground to our atmosphere, where it will contribute to further climate change? President Biden’s decision to re-evaluate proposed oil and gas lease sales in light of climate change implications is necessary⎯⎯particularly in light of the scientific consensus that we must act now to slow the damage already occurring around the world but particularly in the arctic.
BOEM can, and should, settle the issue. BOEM has the authority to remove the Lower Cook Inlet oil and gas development⎯⎯both now, by canceling Lease Sale 258, and forever, by placing a moratorium on future sales in the Lower Cook Inlet. This would not only keep this carbon safely underground but also protect the amazing place that is Lower Cook Inlet.
In addition to taking stable, stored carbon and releasing it into the atmosphere, oil and gas development in Lower Cook Inlet would mean drilling platforms, increased risk for spills and leaks, and toxic chemicals discharged into the Inlet (as allowed by the EPA).
In case you have lost track, Lease Sale 258 was originally scheduled for 2021 and could sell off over 1 million acres in leases of the Lower Cook Inlet for oil and gas development. The sale’s status is unclear currently. Originally, the Trump Administration proposed the sale. President Biden placed a pause (but did not cancel the sale) to further evaluate the impact the sale would have on our changing climate. States (including Alaska) sued arguing that the pause was not allowed under the law. The District Court Judge ruled that the scheduled sales should proceed while the court case is playing out. Recently, the Biden Administration announced that they will appeal that decision. So Alaskans wait to see what judges in Louisiana decide for our Inlet and our climate.
But we don’t have to wait. Inletkeeper is asking BOEM to cancel this proposed lease sale and to protect Lower Cook Inlet from future oil and gas sales. If you haven’t had a chance to sign our petition, you can sign it here: www.tinyurl.com/LeaseSale258. If you have already signed, please share with friends and family who may also be interested in protecting Lower Cook Inlet.