Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) announced Monday its intent to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) on four Central and three Western Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas leases sales tentatively scheduled for 2009-2012.

In initiating a call for comments and notice of intent (NOI), the agency is seeking public comments on oil and natural gas leasing, exploration, development and production activities within the Central Gulf Planning Area, with particular attention to the “181 South Area.” This is the initial step in the prelease process for a sale within that region. The earliest date for a sale in the “South 181 Area” would be March 2009, the MMS said.

In December 2006, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law a bill that requires the MMS to make 5.8 million acres in the “181 South Area” available for oil and natural gas leasing as soon as practicable. The area is south of eastern Alabama and western Florida.

The call comments are due at the MMS by Oct. 10, and the NOI comments must be received by no later than Oct. 25, the agency said.

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