The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is looking for feedback from the public about future Gulf oil and gas lease sales. Environmental and fishing industry advocates in Mississippi tell MPB’s Evelina Burnett, they’re standing together against any new offshore drilling leases.
About a dozen people are gathered in the parking lot of a Gulfport hotel before a public meeting held by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Howard Page with the Gulf Restoration Network is among them.
"You can see it's a pretty diverse group of folks - it's Sierra Club, it's Restore the Sound, it's a group of Vietnamese fishermen that are concerned about the impacts. Twelve Mile South Coalition, Gulf Restoration Network," he says. "And what they all have in common is that they are very concerned about the disproportionate impacts that the oil accidents are having on the fishing economy, the tourist economy and our whole Gulf ecosystem."
Page says they’re urging the bureau not to put any more land under lease, and instead to focus on renewable energy and safety practices at existing oil rigs.
This was the fourth and final in a series of public meetings held by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. They're preparing an environmental impact statement about Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sales from 2017 to 2022.
Barry Obiol is with the federal agency. He says they hold two lease sales a year under the outer continental shelf lands act. He encourages the public to comment now on those future sales.
"Our scientists will take those comments, review them, look for additional information we may not have been aware of or to consider those comments in the analysis that's already been done," he says, "so this is the public's opporutunity to weigh in on that proposed action."
Comments can be submitted through June 7.