U.S. sued over offshore oil lease plan

Dec. 18, 2012 at 8:34 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- An environmental group has sued to halt the U.S. administration's plan to auction offshore oil and gas drilling leases, the first since the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

In its suit, the Center for Sustainable Economy said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management used a flawed analysis to push ahead with the five-year leasing program in violation of several federal environmental laws, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Monday.

The untapped reserves "should only be developed when and if it makes compelling economic sense to do so," said center President and economist John Talberth, charging the Obama administration with "rushing headlong into a program that will put our shores and oceans at risk and do nothing at all for America's energy security."

The leasing program includes scheduled sales in offshore areas in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea and Cook Inlet in offshore Alaskan waters.

Regulators estimate the leases could produce 5.75 billion to 14.3 billion barrels of oil.

The Interior Department, which oversees the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, does not comment on pending litigation, a spokesman told the Times-Picayune.

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