A group that wants to limit oil and gas production to areas of the Gulf of Mexico at least 12 nautical miles south of the Mississippi Barrier Islands is holding a public forum Thursday night in Gulfport to talk about that initiative.
The 12 Miles South Coalition, made up of business and community leaders from the Gulf Coast, will hold what it’s calling “an evening of education and dialogue” about plans to open Mississippi waters to oil and gas exploration and drilling. Panelists – which will include representatives from Gulf Islands National Seashore, the Gulf Restoration Network and the Mississippi Gulf Coast CVB – will go over potential impact to the Coast’s environment and economy drilling that close to the Barrier Islands could have.
Currently, areas leased for exploration and/or production come as close as a mile south of the islands. The Mississippi Development Authority accepted comments on the proposals earlier this year. In March, the Sierra Club and the Gulf Restoration Network sued to stop the implementation of the plans.
In 2004, the Mississippi Legislature opened up 38 percent of Mississippi’s portion of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas development. The rest is off limits.
Thursday’s forum starts at 6 p.m. at the Handsboro Community Center on Switzer Road. It is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.12milessouthcoatlition.org or facebook.com/12milessouthcoalition.