On June 19th, Hinds County Chancery Court Judge William Singletary blocked the Mississippi Development Authority’s (MDA) plan to offer gas leases in state waters. This decision was in response to a lawsuit filed by Gulf Restoration Network and the Sierra Club. You can read the full decision here.
The agency did not consider the effects drilling would have on the environment, economy and quality of life on the coast, and now they’ll have to. The Hind County Chancery court stated what citizens of the coast already knew, that the rules for drilling were arbitrary and capricious because testing and leasing are fundamentally linked to drilling.
This is a major victory because MDA will have a hard time proving that the economic benefits of drilling will outweigh the costs to tourism and other sustainable industries dependent on the natural resources of the coast. Our economic study shows that if just 3% of tourists choose to vacation elsewhere due to unsightly drilling rigs that the state will lose money on drilling. Attorney Robert Wiygul told The Sun Herald, “There are certain places where you don't need drilling and around our barrier islands is one of them.” We certainly hope that MDA will decide that this is the case.
Helen Rose Patterson is GRN’s Mississippi Organizer.