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Agency rejects appeal on Miss. gas and oil leasing

Associated Press Modified: September 25, 2012 at 6:15 pm •  Published: September 25, 2012

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The head of the Mississippi Development Authority has rejected an appeal by opponents who sought to block rules for offshore gas and oil exploration and leasing from taking effect.

In a Friday letter to Sierra Club attorney Robert Wiygul, authority Director Brent Christensen wrote that the rules were properly adopted. Opponents had expected the decision after a hearing officer earlier recommended to Christensen that he not overturn the rules.

"It is clear to me that the Mississippi Development Authority followed the proper procedures in establishing the rules and regulations for offshore seismic surveying and leasing, as authorized by the Mississippi Legislature," Christensen wrote.

The Sierra Club and the Gulf Restoration Network, who are fighting plans by the state to lease parts of the Mississippi Sound for natural gas drilling, said again Tuesday that they plan to appeal to Hinds County Chancery Court. Sierra Club state director Louie Miller said the groups have 10 days from Christensen's ruling to file suit.

The environmental groups say the state failed to consider the impacts of actual drilling, instead only considering the impacts of leasing.

"The idea that leasing does not lead to drilling is pretty absurd," Miller said.

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