Greens protest Gulf of Mexico drilling lease auction

A group of environmentalists is protesting the federal government’s Wednesday auction of offshore oil and gas drilling leases in New Orleans. 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is auctioning off up to 45 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration and development. But greens want the lease sale cancelled, saying it's out of line with the climate policies pursued by the Obama administration. 

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Hundreds of activists will rally outside the Superdome to protest the sales, according to the groups. They want the lease sale called off, a moratorium on future leases and a commitment that the energy industry will create at least 1,000 jobs to fix aging energy infrastructure. 

“While the fossil fuel industry seeks to continue its unchecked expansion, the people of the Gulf and allies across the country are standing up to send a simple message: the Gulf is NOT an energy sacrifice zone and deserves protection for present and future generations to experience and enjoy,” a host of green groups wrote in a letter to President Obama last week. 

BOEM’s auction is for leases in the central and eastern portions of the Gulf. The agency said it has received 148 bids on 128 blocks up for auction so far, The Associated Press reports.

Industry groups have defended the lease sale: The National Ocean Industries Association told AP it is “vitally important” for jobs and energy development in the region.