Agency launches environmental study for five-year drilling plan

The Obama administration today took another step forward in the long process of drafting a five-year blueprint for offshore oil and gas development.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement announced its plans to prepare an environmental impact statement assessing proposed oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico from 2012 through 2017.

The Interior Department agency also will be holding public meetings next week in Houston, New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., to define the scope of that environmental study.

Michael Bromwich, the director of the ocean energy bureau, said in a statement that the environmental impact statement was an “important step in the offshore resource evaluation and development process (that) will help ensure that all interests and concerns regarding oil and gas leasing, exploration, development and production from proposed sales are appropriately considered.”

The bureau has proposed to complete a single environmental impact statement that would govern all of the sales proposed for the western and central planning areas of the Gulf of Mexico from 2012 through 2017.

The public can weigh in on the proposal during a a meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15 at the Houston Airport Marriott at 18700 John F. Kennedy Blvd. People can also submit comments directly to