Interior Dept. to Offer Oil Leases

WASHINGTON, DC — Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced that the Bush administration proposes to sell offshore drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico along the Outer Continental Shelf at least 100 miles from the coasts of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Called by Norton “a balanced and common sense proposal” in response to a previously opposed sale, she said, “We have listened and worked carefully with officials and affected citizens.”

Lease Sale 181 originally spanned 5.9 million acres as proposed by the Clinton administration and came as close as 17 miles to the Florida Panhandle. The sale was delayed due to opposition from the state of Florida and environmentalists. The Bush administration took it up again and opposition arose once more.

The House of Representatives then voted to delay the sale as part of an Interior Department appropriations bill. The new proposal reduces the sale area to approximately 1.5 million acres, moving it away from state shorelines.

Publication date: 07/09/2001

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