The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was picketed by green protesters at its offices in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Tuesday, one day before the agency oversees an offshore drilling lease auction that will be held only online.
Four demonstrators were arrested and removed when they tried to enter the BOEM offices.
The mission of the BOEM, which falls under the Department of the Interior, is to manage the development of the nation’s offshore resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way.
But activists say this first exclusively livestreamed auction will by its nature preclude outsider protest, and exclude the public from the process.
Advocates of the online method say it offers transparency and could attract more and bigger bids.
The BOEM says it is opting for the online option for public safety reasons. Five months ago in March an oil and gas lease sale for sites in the eastern US Gulf of Mexico was disrupted by protesters.
Going under the online hammer on Wednesday will be 23.8m acres in the western part of the US Gulf of Mexico.