Next Gulf of Mexico oil lease sale to offer 78M acres

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The U.S. Interior Department says the next Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sale will offer about 78 million acres (31,565,480 hectares)- about the same amount as the sale in August.

The sale will be held in March, and will be livestreamed from New Orleans. It's the fourth such sale under an Obama administration plan for 2017 through 2024.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants to expand offshore drilling starting next year, but his plan may not affect Gulf lease sales.

Zinke's draft proposal initially included tracts off of Florida in two sales in late 2022, after a congressional moratorium on drilling there expires. After pushback from the state's governor and congressional delegation, he said Florida would be exempted.

The plan's next version is to be released later this year.

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