Late on Wednesday the Biden Administration quietly announced that the Department of Interior would not be pursuing Oil & Gas Lease Sale 258 in Lower Cook Inlet.
First, we are thankful! Alaskans have been fighting the industrialization of Cook Inlet since the 90s and each of these victories is important for our communities that rely on the Inlet! We are filled with gratitude for all Inletkeepers who spoke up, testified, shared or bought art, donated, talked to friends or neighbors, wrote op-eds, or advocated for our Inlet. #YouAreInletkeeper.
We certainly are prepared for continued threats to Cook Inlet and await the next Five Year Oil and Gas Lease Sale plan. We will be advocating for permanent protections that would continue to support sustainable fisheries and tourism industries. But for this weekend, please take a moment and either look out at the Inlet and think about what you helped to protect or if you are out of state, think back to your favorite memories here (or what memories you want to make here!). These are the waters that sustain us.
Second, I also wanted to write because we have been hearing a lot of noise from politicians pushing back against this decision, suggesting it helps Putin or increases our oil and gas prices. Inletkeeper certainly does not deny that the world is scary right now. There is the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine, which is inextricably tied to rising costs across Alaska.
Again the oil and gas industry is using this humanitarian crisis to profit from this disaster. While Alaskans are struggling with the rising costs, the oil and gas industries’ profits have soared. Yet the industry continues to advocate for more tax breaks, laxer regulations, and more handouts. Any time a politician parrots these lines, it leaves us wondering who they are representing? Us? Or the oil and gas CEOs and lobbyists and their profits?
Another red herring is that canceled lease sales like Lease Sale 258 continue to contribute to rising gas prices. This isn’t true. There are thousands of active leases that the industry has that could be developed at any time. Even if these leases were issued tomorrow, it would be years before any oil and gas would be produced from Lower Cook Inlet. These leases have no impact on our current oil and gas prices.
Advocates for more oil and gas continue to ignore the whale in the room – the climate crisis. Locking us into 40 more years of drilling for carbon-based energy in Lower Cook Inlet would be an enormous jump backward. We need to move towards renewable and carbon-free energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, and tidal. These can be implemented in ways that protect our sustainable economies, fish, marine mammals, and communities. These are energy sources that will lead to true national security and energy independence. The time is now for a Just Transition.