US Environmental Groups Challenge Gulf Oil-Drilling Lease Auction

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones Newswires), Dec. 13, 2011

Environmental groups are challenging the first auction of oil-drilling leases to be held in the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in a federal court, the groups said the U.S. government didn't weigh the lessons of the 2010 oil spill when calculating the risks of new drilling activity.

The auction being challenged is scheduled to take place Wednesday in New Orleans, overseen by the Interior Department. It involves more than 21 million acres in the western Gulf of Mexico.

The lawsuit was filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center, Oceana, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council and Center for Biological Diversity.

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department wasn't available for immediate comment.  

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