Oil companies bid on over 2,600 square miles of the Gulf for oil and gas development, although a total of 114,000 square miles were up for bid.
The sales were part of a requirement in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) added to secure the support of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.). The IRA provision sets the deadline for the lease sales at the end of this week.
“The excessive and reckless scope of today’s oil and gas lease sale demonstrates how badly our federal leasing program needs reform,” Earthjustice attorney George Torgun said in a statement.
“The Biden Administration is not only holding a lease sale that is at odds with the law — but also succumbing to the wants of a profit-rich industry over the well-being of Gulf communities, vital ecosystems, and our urgent climate goals.” According to the Common Dreams news site, Biden´s administration approved 6,430 leases to drill for oil and gas on public lands in its first two years.
Despite the legal requirement, the move triggered umbrage among environmental organizations, already smarting from President Biden’s approval two weeks ago of the Willow Project, a massive proposed drilling operation in Alaska.