Internet Lease Sale Avoids Superdome Protests
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will offer 23.8 million acres offshore from Texas via the Internet.
The Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 248, to be held on August 24, 2016, in New Orleans, Louisiana, will be the first federal offshore oil and gas auction broadcast live on the internet. Through this approach, BOEM says it aims to promote greater government efficiency and transparency and eliminate the need for the public to physically attend the bid reading at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Hundreds of Gulf Coast residents, supported by local and national environmental and social-justice groups, rallied at the Superdome during a lease sale held in March this year.
The Superdome rally was built off the momentum of the national Keep It in the Ground movement that saw further action last week. Conservation groups in the movement filed a formal administrative protest late Wednesday challenging a Bureau of Land Management plan to auction off 4,400 acres of publicly owned fossil fuels in Kentucky and Mississippi. The protest cites concerns over climate change impacts and fracking, including toxic wastewater disposal; impacts to wetlands and threats to several sensitive species, including endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers and one of the largest great blue heron rookeries in Kentucky.
The legal protest is part of a national movement calling on President Obama to expand his climate legacy by halting new federal fossil fuel leases on public lands and oceans - a step that would keep up to 450 billion tons of potential carbon pollution in the ground, says the Center for Biological Diversity.
Keep It in the Ground rallies opposed to federal fossil fuel auctions have been growing across the country — in Alaska, Colorado, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Nevada — and have caused some auctions to be canceled or postponed.
Director Abigail Ross Hopper said the milestone lease sale on August 24 will include all available unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area. “The Gulf of Mexico continues to be one of the most productive basins in the world and is an important part of our Nation’s domestic energy portfolio,” said Hopper. “This lease sale follows extensive environmental analysis and stakeholder engagement.”
The auction will include approximately 4,399 blocks, located from nine to 250 nautical miles offshore, in water depths ranging from 16 to more than 10,975 feet (five to 3,340 meters). As a result of offering this area for lease, BOEM estimates a range of economically recoverable hydrocarbons to be discovered and produced of 116 to 200 million barrels of oil and 538 to 938 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
Leases issued from this sale will also be the first for which BOEM will accept requests for extended initial periods, and confirm whether the lessee has earned such extension, a duty previously performed by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
The livestream broadcast will begin at 9 a.m. CDT via the BOEM website at www.boem.gov.