Friday, July 18th was the final day for the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) to file an appeal of Chancery Court Judge William Singletary’s June 19th decision ordering the agency to properly assess the economic impacts of opening state waters to offshore drilling. Gulf Restoration Network and Sierra Club filed the suit over concerns that the state had not done its due diligence in making the case for offshore drilling.
The decision upheld these concerns, stating: “[a] cursory reading of the [Economic Impact Statement] prepared by MDA shows that is severely lacking in the requirements established by [the law].”
Now that the appeal deadline has passed, if MDA wishes to move forward on opening state waters to drilling, it will be required to abide by the judge’s ruling and complete an economic impact statement that follows the letter and spirit of the law.
“MDA is an executive agency that acts as a trustee for all of us when it markets the state's natural resources,” stated Helen Rose Patterson, Mississippi Organizer with Gulf Restoration Network. “The people of Mississippi are owed an economic impact statement that examines the risks as well as benefits from oil and gas leasing near the barrier islands.”
Gulf Restoration Network and Sierra Club commend the state for not throwing good money after bad with an appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court and sincerely hope that MDA will take the time and resources necessary to assess the impacts offshore drilling would have on the tourism economy, the environment and the quality of life in coastal communities. If MDA performs a proper economic impact statement, we are certain it will show that drilling would have a substantial negative effect on the coast.
”This drilling proposal has been flawed since day one. Would we drill Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains? Would we drill Vicksburg National Military Park? Of course not…So why would we drill around Gulf Islands National Seashore? There are appropriate places to drill and inappropriate - drilling in and around National Parks is foolish at best,” said Louie Miller, Director of Mississippi Sierra Club.
Since 1892, the Sierra Club has been working to protect communities, wild places, and the planet itself.
Gulf Restoration Network is a twenty-year old nonprofit focused on empowering people to protect and restore the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico.