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Defend Cook Inlet from oil drilling

Delivery to Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

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What’s At Stake

The Inflation Reduction Act provided billions in crucial investments to accelerate our transition away from fossil fuels, but it also included harmful provisions that require the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to conduct three specific offshore oil lease sales before the end of 2023.

Two of those sales are in the Gulf of Mexico — and 25,000 Earthjustice supporters used their voices to oppose them in a public comment period to determine their environmental impact. With 25% of our emissions coming from fossil fuels extracted from public lands and waters, there’s no way to square the Biden administration’s promises to protect the climate and already overburdened communities with its refusal to take on the oil industry.

The Gulf communities and its ecosystem are not alone in being threatened by these offshore lease sales included in the Inflation Reduction Act. The first sale BOEM will conduct is in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. Cook Inlet is a rich ecosystem in south-central Alaska that is of critical importance to species such as salmon and beluga whales, Alaska Native communities that have long lived off the abundance of the area, and the tourism and commercial fishing industries.

Cook Inlet is home to salmon, sea otters, and the endangered beluga whale, among others. Despite the oil industry’s bluster about its sterling safety record, major incidents like the Exxon Valdez and BP Deepwater Horizon oil spills remain a solemn reminder that oil drilling is a gamble that the ecosystem and surrounding communities are denied a chance to opt out of.

The administration is acting as if it doesn’t have a choice in the matter — but that is far from the truth. The Inflation Reduction Act may require lease sales, but the administration still has ample authority to limit the scale of the sale and establish firm environmental protections to limit the damage to the region and the climate.

The Biden administration has not, however, limited the Cook Inlet sale. It is offering a million acres, with the potential for locking in decades of climate-polluting oil production from the region. In its rush to sell Cook Inlet to the highest bidder, the Biden administration is continuing this country’s long history of prioritizing extraction and profit at the expense of healthy ecosystems and the people that rely on them. President Biden is breaking his twin promises to phase out fossil fuels and protect this country’s irreplaceable natural heritage, but there’s still time for his administration to course-correct. Tell the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to reconsider its disastrous Cook Inlet lease sale.

A natural gas flare from an offshore oil drilling rig in Cook Inlet, Alaska.
PAUL SOUDERS / GETTY IMAGES

A natural gas flare from an offshore oil drilling rig in Cook Inlet, Alaska.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.