The U.S. Interior Department on Thursday said that it will go ahead with an offshore oil and natural gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico scheduled next month, despite some legal concerns about the Bush-era drilling plan.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. ordered the department to rewrite the 2007-2012 leasing plan developed and approved by the Bush administration because it had not undergone proper environmental review.
The department asked court in May to clarify whether it can proceed with the scuttled leasing schedule, if it conducts the appropriate scientific and environmental analysis. As it waits for a response from the court, the department's Minerals Management Service is preparing to hold the upcoming sale as planned.
"Secretary Salazar believes that it is important to move forward with President Obama's comprehensive energy agenda for the country, which includes the balanced development of both renewable and conventional resources," department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said.
The August sale includes about 3,400 unleased tracts of land covering approximately 18 million acres off the coast of Texas. The department estimates that the land could produce 242 to 423 million barrels of oil and 1.64 to 2.64 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.