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White House moves forward with Gulf of Mexico drilling auction, weeks after approving Willow project

The administration was forced to auction off the land after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) included it in the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Published: March 29, 2023 1:09pm

Updated: March 29, 2023 4:17pm

The Biden administration is moving forward Wednesday with auctioning more than 73 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for offshore oil and gas drilling just weeks after approving the controversial Willow oil project in Alaska.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is holding a lease sale for a part of the gulf that is more than twice the acreage of the Willow Project, CNN reported. If it goes forward, it could be the Biden administration's first Gulf of Mexico lease that results in new drilling. 

However, environmental groups already filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the lease sale. They argued that the government's environmental analysis is problematic, as is the size and scope of the sale. 

The Biden administration was forced to auction off the land after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) included it in the Inflation Reduction Act. 

"There's nothing in the IRA that required it to be so large," Earthjustice attorney George Torgun said. "If it goes forward as planned, it's double the size of Willow. It's going to lock in fossil fuel development in the Gulf for the next 50 years." 

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