Interior Secretary Gale Norton recently announced energy production was approved in Lease Sale 181, located in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. The Interior Department has not a lease sale in the eastern Gulf since 1988. The area included in Sale 181 is near the Crazy Horse project, one of the largest energy discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico. Blocks in the sale are located in the deepwater portion of the federal outer continental shelf, due south of Alabama.

Norton says the Interior Department calculates the area contains 1.25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to serve one million U.S. families for 15 years. She says it also has 185 million barrels of oil, enough to fuel the automobiles of a million families for almost six years.