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Md. senators weigh in on Va. drilling

Rosalind Helderman

Maryland Democratic Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski have written a joint letter to President Obama, along with New Jersey's two Democratic senators, urging Obama to ditch plans to allow exploratory drilling for oil and natural gas 50 miles off the Virginia coast.

The longtime drilling opponents cite a report released this week from the Department of Defense show that drilling is incompatible with military activities in 71 percent of the territory included in a current lease sale to companies interested in drilling. The sale is scheduled to be completed in 2012.

"It should be noted, however, that even if you could guarantee the safety of oil and gas rigs and platforms -- a guarantee that neither your Administration nor the oil company executives that appeared before Senate committees were willing to provide -- their very presence off the coast of Virginia would still interfere with ongoing naval operations in the area. The risks to our national security are simply too high. We urge you to abandon all plans for oil and gas exploration and development in this area," they write.

Virginia's own Democratic senators, like Obama, have been more circumspect, calling for an investigation of the explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico before future drilling is allowed. Sen. Mark Warner (D) also said this week that the military's concerns must be considered, but his statement did not indicate that he believes their issues preclude drilling. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has been a major drilling proponent.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 20, 2010; 5:40 PM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , James Webb , Mark Warner , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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