By Ben Geman - 04/05/10 03:01 PM EDT
The EIS will surely become a battleground over whether the detailed leasing program that emerges is a threat to sensitive marine wildlife and ecosystems.
The decisions about where, exactly, to allow oil-and-gas drilling will follow analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act and other statutes. Look for a range of environmental groups and various other interests to start weighing in with formal comments now and continue during the EIS process.
Environmental and industry groups weigh in during the regulatory process in order to preserve their right to litigate later on, among other reasons.
So it’s these administrative paper trails blazed during the EIS development that will point the way toward legal battles that will follow once the formal offshore leasing program is completed.