Department of Interior too busy dealing with Gulf oil spill to conduct public input meetings for Virginia offshore oil and gas leases sale.
As one of the worst offshore oil spills in U.S. history continues to dump anywhere between 5,000 and 25,000 barrels of crude oil per day into the Gulf of Mexico, the Department of Interior has temporarily halted the proposed offshore lease program in Virginia until after the situation is more stable in the Gulf.
In a notice to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, the U.S. Minerals Management Service, the division of the Interior Department responsible for offshore energy permitting, will announce the suspension of the comment period on the proposed Virginia offshore oil and gas lease, formally known as Outer Continental Shelf Mid-Atlantic Oil and Gas Lease Sale 220.
MMS said it was "temporarily postponing public meetings on the potential offshore energy development activities so that information from the ongoing review of Outer Continental Shelf safety issues that the President has directed can be appropriately considered in those meetings."
The first of the public meetings was carried out as planned last week in Norfolk but was reportedly dominated by talk about the Louisiana accident. For that reason alone, it's not surprising that the meetings have been delayed.
The decision is unlikely to have any impact on the planned Virginia offshore energy timeline, however. A spokesman for Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said that "should not change the timing of Virginia's planned offshore lease in 2012."
The Minerals Management Service (MMS) estimates that proposed Lease Sale 220 may contain 130 million barrels of oil and 1.14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.