The Obama administration announced the cancellation of all remaining oil and gas lease sales in the Arctic Ocean through 2017. Under the 2012-2017 offshore drilling program, the administration was prepared to offer approximately 55 million acres and 65 million acres in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, respectively, to private companies for oil and gas development.
The administration also rejected bids from Statoil and Shell to extend their current oil and gas leases in the Arctic Ocean by five years. The companies requested these lease extensions last year in order to allow for more time for oil and gas exploration.
Friends of the Earth Climate Campaigner Marissa Knodel issued the following response:
The Obama administration finally made the right choice for the Arctic and our climate future. To avoid climate catastrophe, Arctic oil and gas are unburnable and must remain in the ground. Today’s announcement marks a significant step in the right direction, but it is disappointing that current market conditions and lack of industry interest — not a safe climate future — moved the administration to action.
Arctic Ocean conditions make it one of the worst places to drill, especially at a time when it is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. While it is encouraging to see the Obama administration take bold actions like cancelling and refusing to extend existing Arctic oil and gas leases, true climate leadership will keep all future leases off the table and Arctic oil and gas in the ground.