The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is proposing to offer up all remaining, available areas of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas operations. The agency is currently on a public-listening tour, with a date slated for Pensacola May 1.
The Gulf of Mexico is divided into three areas as it pertains to energy exploration: The Western Planning Area, the Central Planning Area and the Eastern Planning Area. The BOEM, the federal agency that oversees the lease sales of the ‘blocks’ within each area, is proposing making all unleased blocks available. Exceptions would be blocks located within the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, located off of Texas, areas outside the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone, and a large portion of the Eastern Planning Area protected by the Gulf of Mexico Security Act of 2006.
Pensacola is located more or less on the boundary of the CPA and EPA, with that line defined by the Alabama-Florida state line. The CPA is an active area for energy exploration, while much of the EPA is off limits due to its use as a military training area.
A series of public meetings has been scheduled for the gulf region. They begin April 25 in New Orleans and wrap up a week later in Mississippi. Pensacola’s meeting is scheduled for May 1, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1144 Airport Blvd.
Local environmental group Earth Action has issued a statement opposing the lease sales in the gulf.
“We have a vision.” Earth Action Executive Director Mary Gutierrez said in the statement.“We want to be the part of the United States that creates the largest renewable energy market and use that has ever been seen. We want complete [in]dependence from fossil fuels while developing a competitive and lasting job market for those transitioning from the fossil fuel industry. This isn’t just about protecting the environment, it’s about public health and moving our country towards sustainable, clean energy sources.”
The group plans to attend the Pensacola BOEM meeting to express its opposition.
For more information on the BOEM’s proposal, click here.