(AL.com) — The federal government is opening 73 million acres offshore from Alabama and other Gulf Coast states to oil and gas exploration and development, the Department of the Interior announced Monday.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said the department will offer leases on all available unleased areas in federal waters off Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Florida at its Aug. 16 auction. The sale is the first in a five-year program that will including two auctions per year.
"Opening more federal lands and waters to oil and gas drilling is a pillar of President Trump's plan to make the United States energy independent," Zinke said. "The Gulf is a vital part of that strategy to spur economic opportunities for industry, states and local communities to create jobs and home-grown energy and to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."