NEW ORLEANS -- A group of protestors marched from Duncan Plaza to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome calling for an end to drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and an immediate hiring of a thousand workers to clean up and repair aging oil infrastructure, including rigs, platforms, pipelines and refineries.
At the Superdome, they protested the federal government auctioning off 43 million acres of drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico.
Hundreds of protesters were able to get inside the Superdome and to the room where government officials were reading out the lease sales. Though loud and disruptive, the protesters were not able stop the sales.
"I think what it does is disregard the way of life of 300,000 people in the state and what they do. The state of Louisiana and the people of Louisiana have been leaders in the exploration of oil and gas for more than 100 years," said Marc Ehrhardt, from the Grow Louisiana Coalition.
One protester was able to get on to the stage and collapse as security officers tried to restrain her, while several other protesters ringed the stage shouting, "Shut it down. The people united will never be divided."
Police also hovered on the edge of stage, showing restraint by not arresting any protestor.
In the end, the fewest number of bids were submitted in 20 years.
Earlier, members in the local groups 350 Louisiana, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Bridge the Gulf and Vanishing Earth and the national groups Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Oil Change International, Indegena and San Francisco-based Center for Biological Diversity and Rainforest Action Network attended the protest march.
Rally now underway pic.twitter.com/EGLcYAsbwo— Jade Cunningham (@Cunningham_JL) March 23, 2016
In a Facebook event, the group is scheduled to march from 7 a.m. to 12 Noon starting at Duncan Plaza and encircling the Superdome.
The Department of the Interior is set to auction 43 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will conduct two Gulf of Mexico oil and gas lease sales Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Lease Sale 241 in the Central Planning Area and Lease Sale 226 in the Eastern Planning Area will make 45 million acres available for exploration and development.
Bid reading begins at 9:00 a.m. CST. The Department of the Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider and BOEM Gulf of Mexico Regional Director Michael Celata will read the bids and announce the results of the sale.
The sales are open to the public.
More information about the protest can be found here: www.nonewleases.org.
More information about the auction can be found here: www.boem.gov/Sale-241.