Comments sought on Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sales

03 19, 2012 by The Times-Picayune

There will be four public hearings in early April on the proposed lease sales for drilling for oil and gas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, including one public session in New Orleans on April 9. These four hearings are the public's chance to voice their concerns and ideas about the scope of an environmental impact statement that must be completed for two proposed lease sales for drilling more than 120 miles off the coast of Alabama and Florida.

The two proposed leases are expected to contain 75 percent of the undiscovered and potentially recoverable oil and gas that the government estimates to be in the areas of the Gulf of Mexico's Outer Continental Shelf that are available for development, according to a statement from the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

The bureau will hold public hearings April 3 in Tallahassee, Fla.; April 4 in Panama City Beach, Fla.; April 5 in Spanish Fort, Ala.; and April 9 at 1 p.m. at BOEM's offices in Harahan, at 1201 Elmwood Park Blvd.

Lease Sales 225 and 226 are in the Eastern Planning Area of the Gulf and are proposed to be available for the 2012-2017 period. This opened up part of an area where drilling for oil and gas had not been allowed, but areas farther east, such as the Straits of Florida, are still covered by a congressional lease-sale moratorium through June 30, 2022.