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When it comes to oil drilling, feds say Florida will have its say (at least those in Tally and St Pete)

The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service today said it plans to prepare an environmental impact statement of its plans to look at oil and gas drilling off the Outer Continental Shelf -- including Florida.

The "Notice of Intent" opens a public comment period on the plan -- until June 30. The environmental impact study will look at offering all or portions of eight OCS planning areas for oil and gas leasing. They include and a portion of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the South and Mid-Atlantic.

The agency says it will hold public hearings in "coastal locations near the areas" sometime in June. The meetings are expected to be held in Tallahassee, and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

Interested parties may submit comments to Mr. J. F. Bennett, Chief, Branch of Environmental Assessment, Minerals Management Service, 381 Elden Street, MS 4042, Herndon, Virginia 20170, or online at: