It's not official yet, but opponents of offshore oil and gas drilling in Mississippi believe a preliminary ruling indicates they will lose their administrative appeal.
The Sierra Club and the Gulf Restoration Network appealed the Mississippi Development Authority's decision to issue rules covering exploration and leasing for oil and gas in state waters.
After filing in chancery court, MDA said opponents had to first appeal to agency director Brent Christensen. That led to a two-day hearing in August.
Now hearing officer Patricia Hancock has recommended to Christensen that he dismiss the appeal as improperly filed.
Such a ruling could allow MDA to argue that further action should be barred in Hinds County Chancery Court, although Robert Wiygul, a lawyer for the opponents, expresses confidence that a judge will allow a lawsuit.