Direct action to interrupt the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) sale of new leases to drill for oil & gas in the Gulf of Mexico, at the Superdome on (Photo: Julie Dermansky)
Direct action to stop the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) sale of new leases to drill for oil & gas in the Gulf of Mexico, at the Superdome on March 23, 2016. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 23, 2016

Hundreds Gather to Oppose Offshore Oil Leases in Gulf of Mexico

Gulf Residents, Environmentalists Rally at New Orleans Superdome in Historic ‘Keep It in the Ground’ Action

NEW ORLEANS — Hundreds of Gulf Coast residents, supported by local and national environmental and social justice groups, rallied at the Superdome in New Orleans today in an unprecedented call to end federal offshore fossil fuel lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico.

Activists stage a "die-in" outside the Superdome to protest lease sales to drill for oil & gas in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)
Activists stage a “die-in” outside the Superdome to protest lease sales to drill for oil & gas in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

This historic rally, highlighted by giant puppets and a rainbow of banners underscored the call to end new fossil fuel leases and support a just transition for Gulf communities, especially for those living on the coast or frontlines of the oil industry. Buses with concerned citizens came from around the Gulf, including Houston, Texas; Mobile, Alabama; Gulfport, Mississippi; Pensacola, Florida; and Lafayette, Louisiana.

Today’s lease sale of 43 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico is the first since the Obama administration unveiled a five-year offshore drilling plan that protects the Atlantic but leaves the Gulf and Arctic open to dirty and dangerous fossil fuel extraction projects.

Bold Louisiana's Cherri Foytlin takes the stage at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management lease sale at the Superdome on March 23, 2016. (Photo: Rainforest Action Network)
Bold Louisiana’s Cherri Foytlin occupies the stage during the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management sale of leases to drill for oil & gas in the Gulf of Mexico at the Superdome on March 23, 2016. (Photo: Rainforest Action Network)

Last week, groups sent a letter to Obama asking to immediately cancel this auction, as these sales contribute significantly to global carbon emissions. Offshore drilling also threatens the well-being of Gulf Coast communities and wildlife. There are over 5,000 active federal oil and gas leases, most of which are in the Gulf. In addition to ending new leases, Gulf residents also demand that the industry create at least 1,000 jobs to address its aging infrastructure and toxic legacy, particularly in communities of color.

Fighting new offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico, long an epicenter of the fossil fuel industry, represents a new front for the environmental movement. The Superdome rally builds off the momentum of the national Keep It in the Ground movement, which has held similar actions across the country over the past year. President Obama has the authority to halt all new fossil fuel leases on public lands and waters and should move this forward quickly to uphold promises made during the Paris Climate talks.

Bold's Mekasi Camp Horinek (second from left) and Jane Kleeb at the "No New Leases" direct action inside the Superdome. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)
Bold’s Mekasi Camp Horinek (second from left) and Jane Kleeb at the “No New Leases” direct action inside the Superdome. (Photo: Julie Dermansky)

The movement has significant victories to date, including the recent win by Atlantic coast residents to protect their shore in the five-year offshore drilling plan. Last month, Obama placed a moratorium on federal coal leasing to study its impacts on taxpayers and the planet. Since November, in response to protests, the BLM has postponed oil and gas leasing auctions in Utah, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Washington, D.C.

Details on the Superdome event and Gulf organizing effort can be found at www.nonewleases.org

Bold Louisiana's Cherri Foytlin and Port Arthur, TX activist Hilton Kelley at the Superdome rally on March 23, 2016. (Photo: Rainforest Action Network)
Bold Louisiana’s Cherri Foytlin and Port Arthur, TX activist Hilton Kelley at the Superdome rally on March 23, 2016. (Photo: Rainforest Action Network)

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