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    MMS identifies areas for proposed 2003 and 2005 lease sales in Eastern Gulf of Mexico

    News // August 30, 2002
    The US Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) has identified the proposals, alternatives, and mitigating measures to be analyzed in environmental analyses covering two proposed offshore oil and natural gas lease sales in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico (GOM).

    The two proposed Eastern GOM sales under consideration are Sales 189 and 197. Both of the proposed sales are included in the recently approved 2002-2007 oil and natural gas leasing program. Sale 189 is tentatively scheduled to be held in December 2003 and Sale 197 is tentatively scheduled to be held in March 2005.

    Regarding these sales, MMS published a Call for Information and Nominations and Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in the Federal Register in February 2002, and subsequent scoping meetings on the two-sale EIS have been held.

    This MMS area identification decision will be incorporated in the two-sale EIS as well as in a planned subsequent Environmental Assessment (EA) for Eastern GOM Sale 197, the second sale. The EA will focus primarily on new issues, to determine whether MMSshould prepare either a Finding of No New Significant Impact or a supplemental EIS.

    The general area to be studied includes unleased whole blocks located within the portion of the Eastern GOM Planning Area that is west of 87 degrees 30 minutes West Longitude, and which generally range from 100 to 196 miles south of Alabama and from 70 to 148 miles offshore Louisiana. This area is the same area that was offered for lease in Eastern GOM Sale 181 held in December 2001. The area consists of approximately 1.5 million acres, of which approximately 0.8 million acres are currently available for bid in Sales 189 and/or 197.

    Included where applicable in the planned environmental analyses will be three stipulations designed to reduce potential conflicts between oil and natural gas operations and military activities, and one stipulation designed to mitigate potential adverse effects on protected marine species.

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