Gulf Drilling Hearings Taking Place In JacksonBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 08 Aug 2012 05:02pm |
The future of oil and gas drilling leases in the Mississippi Gulf iscenter stage at a hearing in Jackson today. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports environmental groups are claiming rules that allow for oil and gas seismic testing, drilling, and production were improperly set up and should be thrown out.
The Sierra Club, Gulf Restoration Network and others are challenging the validity of the leasing rules the Mississippi Development Authority finalized earlier this year.
Raliegh Hoak with the Gulf Restoration Network says the MDA was not up front about the potential negative effects of drilling as close as one mile to Mississippi's barrier islands.
"Mississippi development Authority when they released those really didn't clearly look at the potential economic impacts and environmental impacts to the Mississippi Gulf Coast from having drilling rigs out there in sound. Tourism is the second biggest employer along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and we need to make sure we are protecting that before we try to do other things," Hoak said.
Today is the second day in what could be three days of hearings in Jackson to examine the rules.
During testimony yesterday, Jack Moody with the MDA defended claims by the agency that expanding drilling could result in 100's-of-millions of dollars in income for the state.
"If you take the process through the full process of the multiple agencies, multiple responsibilities, multiple permits. If you make it all the way to the end of the drilling and production, than sure, that is the obvious end," Moody said.
Moody says the MDA performed an economic study focused on the gains from permits and leasing because that is what the agency is in charge of.
The rules were open for public comment for nearly 45-days during which time the MDA says it received lots of public feedback.
The Sierra Club's Louie Miller is not impressed.
"They have done nothing to try and engage the public on this. It is nonsensical to say 'we tried to engage the public'. They did everything they could to prevent public input by announcing it on December 19th, six days before Christmas. Come on," Miller said.
While a decision is not expected this week, if the rules are thrown out there would no Mississippi waters available for oil and gas companies to lease and explore.
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