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New Oil and Gas Lease Sale Set for June 20 in New Orleans
President Barack Obama announced a new oil and gas lease sale in the central Gulf of Mexico, scheduled for June 20 in New Orleans.
The lease sale is set to include all unleased expanses off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, making approximately 38 million acres available. According to CNN, this region potentially can produce nearly 1 billion barrels of oil and 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Administration officials said they have created provisions in the lease sale to encourage development, but still provide for the additional time necessary to fulfill more rigorous regulatory prerequisites in the deeper waters. Additionally, the minimum bid was increased to $100 per acre for deepwater areas to encourage potential leaseholders to invest only in the leases they are most interested in developing. This is as a result of a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management finding, which indicated that the lowest-priced leases experienced little exploration and drilling.
The lease sale will be the second since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the last remaining sale scheduled in the 2007-2012 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Natural Gas Leasing Program. According to The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, the U.S. Department of the Interior is finalizing plans for the 2012-2017 program years, which will make more than 75 percent of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas estimated on the Outer Continental Shelf available for development. The plan is for 12 lease sales in the Gulf in those five years.
OBESITY TASK FORCE
Troubled by high rates of childhood obesity in the state, physicians in South Carolina are spearheading a new effort to address the problem and find potential solutions. The South Carolina Medical Association’s Childhood Obesity Task Force will provide a forum for physicians, researchers, school leaders and state health officials to develop a strategy to address childhood obesity. According to The State in Columbia, nearly 32 percent of South Carolina’s children are considered either obese or overweight. The national average is 28 percent.
Green jobs are on the rise in Louisiana. The (Baton Rouge) Advocate reports that jobs related to the production of biofuels, wood pellets, coastal restoration, hydropower and wind turbines comprise 97,800 direct and support jobs that are part of the “green economy.” These jobs account for 5.3 percent of the state’s employment, according to a 2010 study led by LSU and the Louisiana Workforce Commission. The study estimates green jobs growth to reach 13.8 percent by 2020.
Florida schools will receive a $1 billion increase in state funding for the 2012-13 fiscal year. Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Dean Cannon and state Sen. David Simmons, chair of the Senate K-12 Education Appropriations Committee, have agreed to the increase in the Florida Education Finance Program, according to The Florida Current. Reasons for the substantial increase include higher enrollment numbers, the end of federal stimulus dollars and low property tax revenues.
West Virginia has begun a three-year program aimed at solving the commonwealth’s childhood obesity problem. ActiveWV 2015 is modeled after the 2008 National Physical Activity Plan and encourages residents to engage in physical activity on a regular basis, reported The Charleston Gazette. West Virginia ranks in the top five in terms of people struggling with obesity, diabetes, heart disease and strokes. The program was launched during Physical Activity Day in January at the state capitol.
Virginia and the U.S. Justice Department have agreed to a 10-year, $2.1 billion settlement to close all but one state institution for the developmentally disabled and move thousands of patients into home settings. Virginia will spend $340.6 million to make the change and receive $935 million in federal assistance, reported The Washington Post.