13:44 GMT16 May 2021
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    Scientific studies that promised economic windfalls from oil-drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic, used by the US Interior Department to promote its five-year offshore drilling plan, were sponsored by the fossil fuel industry, a nonprofit group revealed.

    According to investigators from the Public Accountability Initiative, eight of nine studies cited in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) report advocating offshore drilling were linked to petroleum companies.

    The nonprofit group detailed that, while four of those reports were conducted by think tanks receiving "dark money" from fossil fuel companies, the remaining were openly funded by oil and gas companies.

    Investigators observed that BOEM stretched the truth in describing the benefits of the project.

    An economist from the University of Southern Maine assessed that one of the reports used by the agency as a source for their analysis was based on “nonexistent leasing scenarios, outdated oil prices, and unknown amounts of Atlantic oil."

    In this context, claims that “deviation” from the proposed [drilling] plan would “cost us jobs and harm security for decades to come," as well as undermining the “energy security” of the US, do not reflect the truth, economists claimed.

    “Do these things generate jobs? Probably not,” Philip Verleger, an economist, told International Business Times. “The fact of the matter is that with prices where they are right now, I don’t think many companies, even if they get leases, are going to do much as far as drilling.”

    Biased studies crafted to back industry-supported lobbyists on capitol hill are a common method of shaping government policy to favor business, according to the report released by the Initiative nonprofit.

    "The oil and gas industry has managed to get an important audience for its self-serving research at an especially contentious moment for offshore fossil fuel expansion," the report reads.

    The Obama administration approved the leasing of 43 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico on March 23, 2016. The move brought outrage from local residents and environmental groups, remembering the BP company’s unprecedented Deepwater Horizon oil spill that destroyed a large percentage of animal and plant life in the region.


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    Oil, Offshore Drilling, US Interior Department, Barack Obama, Arctic, US, Gulf of Mexico
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