Tomorrow, the Department of the Interior is going to auction off every remaining eligible parcel of land in the Western Gulf of Mexico to companies wishing to drill for oil and gas there. As in, all of the plots far enough away from Florida’s beaches and tourism industry that money can buy. All told, 20 million acres of land are slated to be put on the auction block.
The DOI’s release, which is subtitled “November Sale Will Offer All Available Unleased Areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico, Only Latest in a Series of Recent Major Offshore Oil and Gas Sales,” and whose unofficial subtext is “See? See? Look How Amazingly Fair and Generous We’re Being to Oil Companies,” states that:
Tomorrow, as part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold an oil and gas lease sale that will make more than 20 million offshore acres available, and represents all unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area. The Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale builds on two major Gulf of Mexico lease sales in the past year alone, a 21 million acre sale held last December and a 39 million acre sale held in June.
The release is boasting that the Obama administration has auctioned off 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to oil companies, ostensibly in an effort to placate conservative critics who tried to paint the president as too hard on oil during the election. And this move is classic overcompensatory Obama—after the fact, when no one cares, apropos of nothing, the administration is fighting to make sure that the imaginary Ordinary American sees it as fair. As a mighty compromiser.
So, there. We’ve just sold off all the Gulf’s remaining oil bounty. Oil companies will now troll the Gulf for every last drop of extractable oil. There will be a few more spills. But worse, we’ll keep on thinking that our current energy strategy is sufficient, that oil drilling and exploring and exploring and drilling can go on for the foreseeable future. Because it can’t. Both because peak oil is nigh, and our climate can’t tolerate the perpetual emissions load. Maybe it’s time to start that long-time-comin’ transition away from oil.
If not, guess Obama can always auction off the rest of California. Then Alaska, maybe. Then what?