MMS starts environmental review of Sale 181 acreage

Nick Snow
Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 2 -- The US Minerals Management Service will begin the necessary environmental reviews of about 580,000 acres in the eastern Gulf of Mexico opened for oil and gas leasing by legislation signed by President George W. Bush on Dec. 20, the Department of the Interior agency said.

MMS will immediately begin an environmental review of the so-called Sale 181 area, comprised of 2 million acres in the central GOM as well as 580,000 acres in the eastern gulf, which are 125 miles from Florida's coastline and west of the US Military Mission Line, MMS Director Johnnie Burton said on Dec. 21.

Public meetings will be held in Florida and other involved states as part of the environmental review, she indicated. The 2 million acres in the central gulf were reviewed in a November 2006 draft environmental impact statement and will be offered in federal Outer Continental Shelf Lease Sale 205, scheduled early this fall.

A second sale area to the south and in deeper water, comprised of about 5.8 million acres, will come under environmental review later, Burton said.

Contact Nick Snow at nsnow@cox.net.

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