Louisiana to Fight Offshore Lease Sale

Louisiana could be in court as early as next month to fight the proposed oil and gas lease sale off the state's coast in August unless the state gets a cut of the royalties, Gov. Kathleen Blanco's (D) staff said Wednesday.

Bob Szabo, a Washington lawyer hired to help the state fight the sales, said the governor would write a series of letters over the next couple of months opposing the sales on different grounds.

The state, however, expects the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency in charge of the sales, to dismiss the opposition. In that case, the state will appeal to the Commerce Department. If Commerce does not take the state's side, the state will file an injunction in court to stop the sale, Szabo said.

Last week, Blanco's office took issue with MMS over its environmental assessment of the sale. According to the state, that environmental assessment says the environment has not been dramatically altered by the damage caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"The [environmental assessment] fails to address the effects of continued land loss and storm events on the ability to maintain the infrastructure that is vital to the Gulf's economic well-being and national energy policy," states the 13-page letter, signed by Gerald Duszynski, acting state assistant secretary of the Department of Natural Resources (Pam Radtke Russell, New Orleans Times-Picayune, May 25).

The state has asked for about $500 million annually, out of $5 billion the federal government charges for offshore drilling rights in the region (Greenwire, Feb. 14).

Copyright 2006 Greenwire. All Rights Reserved. Visit E&E Publishing for a free trial.

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