By Kelsey Davis

NEW ORLEANS —Two groups wanting to put an end to new drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico are pushing for people to join their cause.

Next month the U.S. Department of the Interior will auction off 43 million acres of land in the Gulf of Mexico for new drilling leases.

In protest, several environmental groups will host a demonstration called Surround the Superdome. Protest organizers said for far too long, the oil and gas industry has not taken care of the water, animals and lands surrounding that region — and it’s had a large hand in climate change.

“Of course the Superdome has become iconic for a number of reasons. But clearly Hurricane Katrina is one of the most important. If we want to avoid that we need to have our wetlands. We need to have storms that are not becoming stronger because of climate change,” said Aaron Viles, senior grassroots organizer with Care 2 Inc.

They’ve put out a call to end new lease agreements and to hire at least 1,000 workers to make repairs to existing drilling equipment and infrastructure that is old and damaged.

“They have leaking pipes and leaking valves underground that’s Exxon in Baton Rouge, the second largest refinery in the country. A picture from an EPA inspection showed plastic bags and duct tape on a valve. This is the state of the industry, and we need men and women hired now to repair that industry,” said Anne Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade.

The Surround the Superdome protest is set for March 23. An exact start time will be announced at a later date.

WDSU News: Louisiana environmental groups to protest against new drilling leases in Gulf of Mexico