The US Government is Auctioning 80 Million Acres of Oil and Gas Drilling Leases in the Gulf of Mexico after COP26

The US Government is Auctioning 80 Million Acres of Oil and Gas Drilling Leases in the Gulf of Mexico after COP26

The Climate Change Conference (COP26) only wound up a few days ago. At the event, Joe Biden pledged to lead the world by example in the way the US will deal with global warming. But what we are seeing right now, is exactly the opposite. The US Government is in the process of auctioning off a massive volume of gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

US Government Oil Drilling Leases Auctioned

On the 17th of November, the US government kicked off an unprecedented auction of oil and gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Making a mockery of Biden’s pledge to do more about climate change at COP26.

The volume of leases on offer is the largest ever auction. Some 80 million acres of the Gulf are being made available for the extraction of oil and gas. These leases will last for many years, and maybe even decades. During this time, they will be producing emissions that can add to global warming.

Biden Backtracking After COP26

It wasn’t so long ago that Biden promised to close down new drilling operations on public lands and waters. At COP26, attendees were told that America was ready to take leadership on climate change issues. However, nobody expected this to mean contributing to global warming rather than fighting it.

How Valuable are these Oil and Gas Drilling Leases?

The Department of the Interior (DOI), which has responsibility for overseason public waters and lands in the USA, believes there may be over 1 billion barrels of oil, and over 4 trillion cubic feet of gas ready to be extracted across the 80 million acres up for auction. Experts predict that such large scale extraction operations would generate some 600 million tons of greenhouse gases. With many pundits calling it a “climate bomb.”

The US Backs Down on Coal Mining Decisions

The USA Government also failed to buy into the end of coal mining that was partially agreed upon during the Climate Change Conference. Since being in office, Biden has reversed decisions related to limiting US fossil fuel extraction.

However, representatives of the oil and gas industry have an alternative view of Biden’s position. It has been put forward that any reduction in the production capacity of the US fossil fuel industry, would have a negative impact across many touchpoints. This includes a continuing increase in fuel prices, as well as a loss of jobs.

Oil and Gas at COP26

The oil and gas industry had the highest number of representatives at the Climate Change Conference in Scotland. It was found that over 500 attendees had links to fossil fuel extraction. Furthermore, there were over 100 oil and gas firms at COP26.

Many of these attendees came under fire for being part of an industry that is perceived to have contributed to global warming for decades. However, it is important to consider that oil and gas has a place at the climate change table. Nobody knows more about how fossil fuel extraction techniques could be changed to lower the impact on the environment than actual oil and gas operators.

In recent years the industry has taken steps to at least mitigate its carbon footprint in some way. COP26 has been an important event, and one which everyone apart from the Biden administration it seems, walked away from with a firmer commitment to preserving the planet.