Dear Ms. Kelly Hammerle, National Program Manager, BOEM:
We, the undersigned, are writing in response to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) Request for Information: Preparation of 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program. The current 2017-2022 Five-Year Program was crafted after careful consideration of public comment and the relevant social, economic, and environmental factors. We do not believe it should be changed and encourage you to abandon this effort.
We oppose lease sales in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. We urge BOEM to exclude these Planning Areas and all national marine protected areas from a Draft Proposed Program, should it decide to prepare one. We also urge BOEM to take the following actions to protect our priceless ocean ecosystems and coastal assets:
Consider local resolutions or letters opposing or expressing concern with offshore drilling and exploration, including seismic airgun blasting, as well as letters submitted by business leaders, fishing groups, and elected officials, including those submitted during the 2017-2022 five-year program planning process.
Protect endangered species dependent on healthy ocean habitats, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, from offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration.
Protect ecologically valuable and vulnerable marine areas, including marine sanctuaries and national marine monuments, from offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration.
Finally, large numbers of stakeholders are fervently opposed to expanding offshore drilling in our oceans. With such long-standing, broad, diverse, and scientifically based opposition to leasing in these areas, there is little reason to reconsider the previous conclusion made in the context of the 2017-2022 Five-Year Program. The unlikely benefits that might accrue from offshore drilling do not outweigh the significant risks. We urge BOEM not to schedule any new lease sales in these important marine areas.