NEW ORLEANS – The Latest on public meeting about continued Gulf of Mexico offshore oil leasing (all times local):
About 50 opponents of continued oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico rallied on the sidewalk and then brought their chants into a public meeting about potential impacts of continuing the lease program for five more years.
For a few minutes, they stood in a circle in a hotel meeting room where the federal agency in charge of oil and gas leases had set up stations for its officials to talk with people. After a couple of short speeches, they chanted “The Gulf is not for sale!” and clapped in time.
Then they drifted into quiet conversations with federal officials.
Jayeesha Dutta of the Gulf Future Coalition talked with Bruce Brown, chief environmental officer for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
She said the administration should listen to opponents of Gulf drilling, as it has to those against drilling off the Atlantic Coast.
Brown encouraged her to say so in writing, at tables set up to take comments.
Supporters of continued oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico say they’re needed to support the economy and energy needs of the Gulf Coast and the entire nation.
Brent Greenfield of the Consumer Energy Alliance says he represents 400,000 individuals as well as truckers, farmers and others who need reliable and affordable energy. He says the United States will rely on oil and gas for decades to come, and the Gulf provides 20 per cent of the nation’s crude oil supply.
Lori LeBlanc is head of a group representing Gulf energy workers. She says the federal government has received $80 billion from lease sales and royalties over the past decade, and all taxpayers would lose if that money were to end.
They spoke before an afternoon meeting at which the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will talk informally with members of the public and take written and electronic comments from the public.
Drilling opponents planned a rally just before that afternoon meeting.
Opponents of continued oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico say the government should stop selling such leases.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is looking for public comment about the potential environmental impacts of five more years of offshore drilling, from 2017 to 2022.
Anne Rolfes of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade says that groups like hers have been asking for safer procedures that don’t pollute. In her words, “We’ve asked them to stop their accidents, to put up air monitors, to stop their spills in the Gulf of Mexico.”
She says those efforts have always been resisted, and climate change is bringing “the morality of fossil fuel” into serious question. She says those are among reasons opponents want an end to new drilling.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says its experts will talk informally with members of the public and take written or electronic comments from the public.
Supporters and opponents of offshore drilling can have their say Monday afternoon at a public meeting at a hotel near New Orleans’ international airport.
It’s the first of three meetings rescheduled to let more people attend and comment about the potential environmental impacts of five more years of offshore drilling, from 2017 to 2022.
The other rescheduled meetings will be in Houston and Washington.
The Bureau of Offshore Energy Management’s 279-page draft environmental impact statement is available on its website.
Drilling opponents plan a rally before Monday’s meeting.
The agency notes that people who cannot get to the meetings can send in comments through the Internet, by email, by regular mail, or by hand delivery.
The 33 comments so far at regulations.gov include at least 14 about drilling off Alaska.
Draft EIS: http://www.boem.gov/Five-Year-Program-2017-2022/