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Obama to allow gas and oil drilling off Virginia coast

Anita Kumar

President Obama is set to announce that he will allow oil and gas drilling 50 miles off Virginia's coast, including a possible sale two years from now of leases off the state's shores.

The decision, which Obama will announce with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at Andrews Air Force Base this morning, ends a long-standing ban on drilling along much of the East Coast, from Delaware to central Florida.

Read the full story by Post reporter Juliet Eilperin.

Obama's move will represent a victory for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who campaigned last year on making the state the "Energy Capital of the East Coast" and using proceeds from drilling to pay for transportation. (Congress would still need to pass a bill allowing Virginia to receive royalties.)

Most Virginia leaders -- regardless of political party -- have expressed interest in drilling for oil and natural gas, including both U.S. Sens. Jim Webb and Mark. Warner and most members of the state's congressional delegation.

But environmental groups and some Democratic members of Congress, including U.S. Reps. James P. Moran Jr. of Northern Virginia and Robert C. Scott of Hampton Roads, say they worry that possible spills and new infrastructure onshore and off could harm plants, animals, tourism and the naval base in Norfolk, the world's largest.

In anticipation of today's announcement, the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter already sent out a statement.

"We are deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has chosen to open up new areas that have long stood protected from the dirty, risky business of offshore drilling," said Glen Besa, chapter director. "Our beloved clean Virginia beaches are the backbone of our coastal economy, generating billions of dollars in revenues from tourism, recreation and commercial fishing...There are not only the risks of spills both chronic and catastrophic but also the industrialization of our coastal communities that would either debilitate or destroy Virginia's coastal economy,"

Virginia has been in line to be the first Atlantic Coast state to drill off its shore. It still will probably be years before it starts, even with the necessary approval from the Obama administration.

The 25-year-old federal moratorium on energy exploration and development off the coast of Virginia and other states expired in 2008. Virginia has been the only state on the East Coast included in the Minerals Management Service's five-year plan.

By Anita Kumar  |  March 31, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Comments

virginia and the drillers should be 100% responsible for any damage done by the drilling.
Then one good spill will wipe out all those "savings" and cost the people of virginny billions

Posted by: newagent99 | March 31, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

It is sad that we are still talking about drilling anywhere for oil. We have had synthetic motor oil for over a decade, so why not a synthetic gasoline substitute - no drilling and no mess. Where are all those bright chemical engineers?

Posted by: cheshirecat2 | March 31, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Ha, come on. There was no ban in effect! Bush removed the ban years ago!

Try reporting REAL news, not playing politics! Do a little research!

You conveniently mentioned that he actually put further restrictions in place in Alaska....the only REAL news that came out of this hype.

Posted by: johnnyappleseed123 | March 31, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

And when oil starts washing up on Virginia Beach and into the Chesapeake in July, we'll find out why we couldn't trust the Republicans to follow the environmental regulations they swore to uphold. This isn't about drill, baby, drill, it's about the Republican's reckless attitude toward environmental and tourism concerns.

Posted by: Anglo_Rider | March 31, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

johnnyappleseed, you are semi-correct. Bush didn't remove the bans, they simply expired in 2007 when Congress failed to re-enact them. But this article doesn't say he removed the bans, it says he will not allow the sale of leases. That was the main sticking point with the DoI and Virginia, as it was technically legal to drill but because the feds controlled the land, they got to decide if they wanted to sell. That obstacle has now been removed.

I don't understand how it's ok to drill in the waters off of Virginia, but not Alaska? You can't tell me that wasn't a political slap to the face of Sarah Palin.

Posted by: TCRobinson | March 31, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

It's a political slap in the face to Virginia. One oil spill and all those rightwing conservatives are going to be gun-toting environmentalists!

Posted by: thebobbob | March 31, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

those damn republicans, at it again. We all know that every bad thing that happens in this world is because of those damn republicans. Those democraps don't ever do anything bad. All their decisions is only for the poor old poor faulks of America. No, those democraps wouldn't ever think about doing anything wrong like drill off the shores of Virginia, no President Obama would Never suggest Drilling off the coast of Virginia. I know, those dirty Republicans, twistsed the arms of President Obama and made him do it, no they threatened the President. No our democrap President would never hurt the American people, I mean look He gave all America FREE healthcare. WE will not have to pay for it. it will pay for it's self. Sure, our democrap of a President certainly wouldn't hurt the American people, like take over everything he can think of to take over just so that we Americans will Not have to think for ourselves, gee isn't that just grand of him? I just don't know what I would do without our grand ole President, he makes all our decisions for us, because he knows. He knows all things, and of course we the American people don't know a thing. That's why he said to the democrap congress and the democrap senators to not listen to the American people, because he knows it all, and he is trying to help us poor ole America poor people, so that we don't have to worry no more, about where our food will come, he has wealthfare for that, and he is also gonna give us free housing real soon, and this new FREE healthcare, wow, now we really will not have to think any more, no more headachs. Now, all we have to do is just get rid of all those Republicans, by saying that they are ALL racist, and they don't like the poor people, and of course there all lieing, I mean look there mouth is moving. Our Democraps would never lie to us, no never. Mr President, I know, Let's just make all the rich people pay for everything, they have all the money anyway, and they stold it all from us poor people, those bad ole rich people, I mean all we are asking for is OUR FAIR SHARE, nobody should be smart enough to be able to think for themselves so that they can earn all that money, it just isn't fair, it's a crime, isn't it Mr President. Mr President, are you listening?

Posted by: mhsmith5 | March 31, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

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