Mississippi Development Authority executive director Brent Christensen denied Monday an appeal by two environmental groups to reconsider rules governing oil and gas leases, drilling and exploration in the Mississippi Sound.
The Sierra Club and Gulf Restoration Network had asked the agency to rethink its decision to allow those activities in the area south of the Mississippi Barrier Islands. Under the rules, they would be allowed within one mile seaward of the islands.
The two groups announced Tuesday afternoon plans to appeal Christensen’s decision. A press release did not specify in what court that appeal would take place. The Sierra Club and GRN initially appealed the rules to Hinds County Chancery Court, but the MDA was successful in convincing the chancellor that the first appeal had to go through the agency.
GRN Mississippi organizer Raleigh Hoke said the MDA “has completely ignored the negative impacts the drilling and production could have on coastal tourism and other industries.”
The release said the groups are appealing on behalf of the 12 Miles South Coalition, an organization made up of Coast business and community leadership whose goal is to limit drilling and related activities no closer than 12 nautical miles south of the islands. The Coalition says drilling closer would harm the area’s tourism economy.