This morning, the Obama Administration released the latest draft of their offshore drilling plan, and there’s some good news in it: in an about-face, the President has pulled back on plans to open Atlantic coastal waters to new oil and gas drilling!
That’s huge news, and it happened because communities mobilized. It’s a win for people power. But it’s also a partial win, because there’s some bad news in the plan too: The current version still allows new drilling in the Arctic and off the Gulf Coast. And that’s still unacceptable.
This is still a draft plan, which means we’ve got an opening to apply some pressure. Luckily, President Obama isn’t immune to pressure from the climate movement. In fact, he needs it. We’ve seen that time and again, from the Atlantic drilling plans announced today to Keystone XL. And there’s still time to win the kind of offshore drilling plan we really need: one that puts a stop to new drilling everywhere.
We know that fossil fuel companies already have five times more carbon on the books than we can safely burn and more drilling leases than they’re using; at some point — arguably yesterday — we have to just start leaving oil and gas in the ground. Publicly-controlled land and coastal waters are the obvious places to start.
When the first draft of this plan came out last year, we hadn’t yet signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement. Now, we’ve officially committed to keeping warming below two degrees Celsius, and a plan that opens up new oil and gas development is inconsistent with that bare-minimum commitment.
A plan that takes climate change seriously would be a virtual blank page, with no new drilling allowed anywhere — not in the Atlantic, not in the Arctic, and not in the Gulf. One down, two still to go.
Communities along the Gulf Coast have been living in a “sacrifice zone” for too many years. The fossil fuel industry is so entrenched there that some folks in places like DC don’t think the region is worth fighting for.
But folks who live in the Gulf Coast region have been fighting back for decades. It’s time for the rest of us to have their backs. If we can make it clear that the only acceptable offshore drilling plan is one that allows zero new offshore drilling, then we can get the Gulf and the Arctic off the table too.
This is one of the most important climate decisions that President Obama has left to make. It will shape his legacy: whether he’ll be remembered as a leader on climate action, who kept fossil fuels underground, or someone who tried too little too late.
We’ve still got some time to before the offshore drilling plan is finalized to make our voices heard. Over the next couple of months, we’ll be packing hearings, organizing rallies, and more. Join us.