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Posted at 7:43 AM ET, 05/27/2010

Obama pulls plug on Virginia offshore drilling

By Peter Galuszka

President Obama is doing the right thing by canceling a lease sale for offshore oil drilling about 50 miles from the Virginia coast.

The plan was suspect from the beginning. Obama surprised environmentalists by playing to Republicans and agreeing to the lease sale, which Gov. Robert McDonnell badly wanted to help his campaign dream of having the Old Dominion become "The energy capital of the East Coast."

The were any number of problems with the plan. There are still no known commercially viable oil fields off the mid-Atlantic coast. Geology hints that natural gas is a possibility, but probably not oil. Fishing and tourism interests from North Carolina to New Jersey were skittish. Lastly, the Navy, a huge economic player in Virginia, said that more than half of the areas where drilling could happen were too close to combat training zones.

Even if there is oil off the coast, it would not be available until perhaps 2020 and would likely meet U.S. oil demand for a matter of weeks, not years.

Obama is torpedoing offshore Virginia oil because he hasn't been able to find a solution to the BP and Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

This all makes Obama look bad, but it makes McDonnell look even worse. McDonnell's short tenure has seen setback after setback, from the Confederate History Month gaffe to hiring Fred Malek, who once put together a list of Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics at President Nixon's behest, to head an important state panel on government streamlining. Add to this Kenneth Cuccinelli, and you have a real mess.

Peter Galuszka blogs at Bacon's Rebellion . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Peter Galuszka  | May 27, 2010; 7:43 AM ET
Categories:  Chesapeake Bay, Confederate flag, HotTopic, Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia, development, economy, energy, environment, military, transportation, wildlife  
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