Group challenges government's offshore lease plan

Gulf of Mexico

The environmental group the Center for Sustainable Economy (CSE) has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Interior Department for its plan to sell oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico over the next five years. The Hill reported the group believes the government's plan and its economic analysis behind it is "critically flawed, biased and incomplete."

Instead of conducting a thorough analysis on the environmental effects of leasing offshore drilling blocs in the Gulf of Mexico, the group said the Obama administration has rushed into the leasing schedule.

In October, the Obama administration announced 20 million offshore acres in the Gulf near Texas would be leased by the government. The first lease sale for the area was held in late November. The Hill reported the Interior Department plans to hold a total of 15 lease sales through 2017 for acreage in the Gulf. The leases are expected to contain 68 billion barrels of recoverable oil and more than 300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

However, the CSE said the lease plan violates the National Environmental Policy Act and that the government did not "rigorously explore" or objectively weight alternative options, the Hill reported.

Offshore oil exploration in the United States is explored at PennEnergy's research area.

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