Public Comment Sought For Potential Gulf Oil Lease Sales - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Public Comment Sought For Potential Gulf Oil Lease Sales

Posted: Updated:

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is seeking public input for two proposed oil and gas lease sale sites in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

There were two public hearings in Panama City Beach on Wednesday, but attendance was low.

The purpose of the meetings was to provide information and gather comments surrounding the potential use of these oil rich areas and the environmental impact of the sale of these two leases

Officials from BOEM, which is a faction of the US Department of Interior, are currently traveling the Gulf Coast holding similar meetings this week, but they said they have only gathered two comments so far from the Panama City Beach area.

The public input is an essential part of the process of creating an environmental impact study that looks at the factors that leasing the areas for oil and natural gas harvesting could bring to the area.

The two sites sit 125 miles below the Panhandle shoreline, with roughly 660,000 acres.

Officials say it's important following significant events like the BP oil spill to listen to the fears, concerns and comments of the public before presenting their study for approval or denial from the secretary of the interior.

"We want to know what people are thinking, we want to know if people have information that we can use that we can bring into our documents to help us address our kind of concerns. What can we do? How can we make our document stronger? If people have ideas, fresh ideas that we haven't though of, bring those to use. That's what we'd like to hear. That helps us a lot," said Gary Goeke, Chief of Regional Assement Section for BOEM New Orleans.

These lease sites are part of a five year program that schedules 12 potential lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico.

The comment portion for these sites will be open for 45 days and comments can be made online.

To download the full environmental impact study, visit the following link at BOEM's website at http://www.boem.gov/Environmental-Stewardship/Environmental-Assessment/NEPA/nepaprocess.aspx.

Comments can be submitted online here: www.boem.gov/gom-sales/.