A recent ruling by a Hinds County’s Chancery Court judge will give opponents of oil and gas drilling in the Mississippi Sound their day in court to appeal the Mississippi Development Authority’s proposed drilling rules.
Robert Wiygul, attorney for the Sierra Club and the Gulf Restoration Network, said,“We filed an appeal back in the spring. MDA said we didn’t have the right to challenge what they did and that had to get resolved and now we’re finally getting down to the business of getting the case in front of the court.”
The court date is Jan. 6 in Jackson.
The MDA declined to comment “given this is still pending litigation.”
Opponents of the proposed drilling say MDA’s projections for economic impact are “woefully inadequate.” They also believe the proposed rules for oil and gas exploration, drilling and production will create a “greater risk for accidents like the BP oil disaster.”
At the upcoming hearing, Wiygul said he will argue that MDA’s decision to issue rules that allow oil and gas leasing in the Sound don’t take in account the impact on the tourism industry and natural resources.
“What MDA is saying here is we don’t really need to worry about what the impacts are going to be on tourism and on recreation and all those things. We are just going to go ahead and do our leasing regulations and do our leasing and we will worry about those later. We don’t think that’s what the law is and we don’t think that’s a sensible way to proceed, whether you’re a government body or a business or an individual.”