Biloxi, MS - Today, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR) released the results of their consistency review of the Mississippi Development Authority’s (MDA) “Rules and Regulations Governing Leasing for Production or Extraction of Oil, Gas and Other Minerals from State Owned Marine Waters” and “Seismic Exploration on State Owned Marine Waters.”
“This review is disappointing. The Mississippi Coastal Program clearly states that decisions made by DMR should encourage preservation of natural and scenic qualities in the coastal area,” said Helen Rose Patterson, Mississippi Organizer for Gulf Restoration Network (GRN). “Clearly 4-6 story gas rigs visible from the shoreline and within a mile of the barrier islands do not preserve natural and scenic qualities.”
On December 13th, members of the 12 Miles South Coalition delivered a letter, signed by over 40 businesses and organizations, to Governor Phil Bryant, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, MDA and MDMR opposing oil and gas activities within 12 miles south of the barrier islands (read the letter here). In addition, GRN and Sierra Club are involved in litigation to block MDA’s rules, with a court date set for January 6th in Hinds County Chancery Court.
Despite this ongoing opposition, DMR’s decision could open the door for MDA to conduct a lease sale early next year. Once a lease sale is held and leases are sold, companies that purchases leases can move forward, with some regulatory obstacles, on developing and ultimately drilling their lease sites.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable for the Mississippi Development Authority to rush to sell off Mississippi’s mineral assets without looking at how oil and gas development will impact coastal tourism,” stated Ms. Patterson. “Business and tourism leaders are clearly concerned about how gas rigs on the horizon will impact their bottom line. It’s time MDA listened to their voices.”
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Gulf Restoration Network is a diverse network of local, regional, and national groups and individuals dedicated to protecting and restoring the valuable resources of the Gulf of Mexico.