Interior Secretary Gale Norton informed the governor in a letter last week that the administration plans to post notices of the sale of leases off the coasts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana in July. Interior officials disclosed the letter on Tuesday.
"I must consider our nation's energy needs and appropriate management of the American public's natural resources," Norton wrote.
Gov. Bush, who is up for re-election next year, still might have a shot at derailing the auction, which has the state's environmentalists and powerful tourism industry incensed.
In January, Jeb Bush fired off a strongly worded letter to the department that requested cancellation of the sale. That put his older brother in an awkward position: As the president pushes for oil and gas drilling in protected regions of Alaska and the Rockies, his brother wants him to halt the sale of energy leases that has been planned for five years.
Both sides dismiss a fraternal rivalry. "The administration appreciates the concerns expressed by Gov. Bush," White House spokesman Scott McClellan says.
"This is not a pitting of one Bush against another," says Jeb Bush's spokeswoman, Elizabeth Hirst. "This is the governor fighting for the people of his state."
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