Last Friday, the Obama administration released the final version of its offshore drilling plan, which determines where the government will allow for oil and gas drilling off America’s coasts over the next five years. The final version of the plan was a mixed bag: while the President cancelled plans for expanded drilling off the Arctic and Atlantic coasts, he kept plans for new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s heartbreaking to see the Gulf of Mexico left as a sacrifice zone once again. The Gulf Coast has survived the recklessness of the fossil fuel industry for generations — from the localized impacts of digging up and refining fossil fuels to the impacts of a changing climate. Whether it’s oil spills or cancer clusters, rising sea levels or extreme weather events, the Gulf Coast is at the forefront of a crisis that expanded drilling will only worsen.

This plan was one of the last climate-related decisions President Obama had to make before he leaves office. Throughout his administration, the climate movement has stood up — from the Arctic Circle to the Gulf of Mexico — to demand he stop all new offshore drilling.

In the past, this plan has been a free pass for the industry, giving companies like BP and Shell a green light to bore new wells wherever they’d like. The protection of the Arctic and Atlantic coasts in this plan is a testament to the power our movement has built over the past few years. And though the offshore drilling plan concerns regions thousands of miles apart, each with their own cultures and context, the fight against offshore drilling has been a unified force, connecting communities who confront the fossil fuel industry and climate change everyday.

In the beginning of the year, community leaders from the Arctic, Atlantic and Gulf came together to deliver over 2 million petitions demanding an end to new drilling to the White House. In March, hundreds of people from across the Gulf Coast stormed a fossil fuel auction held in the New Orleans Superdome, demanding #NoNewLeases. That same month, a draft version of the offshore drilling plan was released with an early victory — plans to expand drilling in the Atlantic were cut.

Throughout the Spring, communities in the Gulf and Arctic pressed on: packing hearings, collecting signatures and taking to the streets to keep the heat on the Obama administration. Delegations from the Arctic, Gulf and Atlantic gathered in Washington DC in May, where they marched and rallied with over one thousand people, calling for protection of all their homes.


So while we celebrate the work that went into Arctic and Atlantic victories, we know it’s not enough. We need to stop new drilling everywhere.

In the waning months of the Obama administration and beyond, we know this work will continue, and we are prepared to fight like hell to protect our communities and climate from the fossil fuel industry.

On Friday, Cherri Foytlin with Bold Louisiana reminded us, “We are disappointed, but we are not done. If this plan is finalized, President Obama has set the battlefield that Trump will be forced to charge. With all that we have, we will fight on.”

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