GULF OF MEXICO (WLOX) - Millions of acres of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico will be up for grabs this summer. It's all part of a presidential push to put more Americans to work and rebuild the economy.
Lease sale 249 will place 79 million acres of water in the Gulf from several coastal states up for sale for oil and gas drilling. This will be the first region-wide sale of federal waters for oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
"Opening more federal lands and water for oil and gas drilling is a pillar of President Trump's plan to make the U.S. energy independent," said Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
You might not see any drilling or oil rigs from right here on the shore, because this will happen in federal waters about three miles out from the barrier islands.
The news is meeting some opposition. Critics are saying the drilling may have a negative effect on tourism and a negative effect on the environment in the event of another oil spill.
"You can't do any kind of reasonable environmental analysis to figure out which areas have resources you need to protect. Which areas if you have another oil spill are going to impact sensitive areas on the shoreline," said attorney Robert Wiygul. "We're taking about 79 million acres. We're talking about a thousand some odd square miles that they're talking about putting up for lease here, and it is really just impossible to do justice to protecting the environment."
Lease 249 is scheduled to go into effect on Aug. 16 in New Orleans and will be a five-year process projected to end in 2022.