Energy Oceans

Interior Department to auction off 77 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to oil companies

The U.S. Department of the Interior is proposing to auction off 77 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico—an area about the size of New Mexico—in the largest oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history. According to a DOI press release, the federal waters that will soon go to the highest bidder are located off Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, and include “all available un-leased areas on the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf.” The department assures that the “lease sale terms include stipulations to protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species, and avoid potential conflicts associated with oil and gas development in the region.” But let’s remember that we’re talking about the scene of the 2010 BP oil spill, one of the worst environmental disasters in American history. Years later, the ecosystem still hasn’t fully recovered—and neither have drilling-safety measures. The sale is scheduled for March 2018.

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