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Revised Seismic Testing and Drilling Rules Sent to Secretary of State

By Rhonda Miller | Published 17 Feb 2012 07:38pm | comments
Nina Kelson is Deputy Superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore

Revised regulations for gas and oil drilling off Mississippi’s barrier islands were filed with the Secretary of State on Feb. 15.  After 30 days, the state may issue permits for seismic testing, then leases for drilling. But as MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports, the National Park Service has many concerns.

"...one of the last vestiges of undeveloped shorelines in America..."

Mississippi’s barrier islands are part of Gulf Islands National Seashore.  Deputy superintendent of the park, Nina Kelson, says it’s important to protect the pristine environment of the islands.

"Our concerns with the drilling would be right offshore from the islands, one mile from the islands, drilling platforms. Some things of particular concern are the possibility of subsidence, the sinking of the islands, because of extensive drilling and exploration activities, also water quality, air quality."

The park sent those concerns, and others, to the Mississippi Development Authority during the public comment period on proposed drilling regulations. The state made about 35 changes based on more than 180 comments. The revised regulations have been sent to the Secretary of State. After 30 days, the state is expected to be able to issue permits for seismic testing, followed by leases for drilling.

The drilling is OK with welder Tommy Langley of Moss Point, as long as environmental and safety precautions are in place.

"Especially if it benefits the locals, like bring the price of natural gas in local areas down, you’d get away from a little bit of your coal burning."

Aerospace engineer Charles Gruby of Petal would like to see the drilling get moving.

"I think it’s a big mistake to depend on Venezuela and Middle Eastern countries for our resources. We’ve got them right here, why don’t we put the people to work here, drilling for them here ? We’ve got an economy problem, why don’t we do something to boost this economy?"

Even though the majority of public comments submitted to the state oppose drilling, the comments were supposed to be specifically about the regulations. That’s because in 2004, the state Legislature approved drilling one mile south of the barrier islands.  The Mississippi Development Authority said it will take additional comments into consideration when drawing up leases for drilling.

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Nina Kelson is Deputy Superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore


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