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Moran hails Obama's decision to halt drilling off Virginia's coast

Anita Kumar

U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, a Northern Virginia Democrat and chairman of the appropriations subcommittee for the interior and environment, praised President Obama for canceling plans to drill for oil and gas off Virginia's coast.

"I greatly appreciate the Obama Administration listening to our concerns and wisely pulling back on offshore drilling in light of what is shaping up to be the worst ecological disaster in our nation's history,'' Moran said. "This pragmatic decision will help ensure another catastrophe like the Gulf Coast disaster doesn't repeat itself."

Moran, a strong opponent of drilling off Virginia's coast, is holding a hearing Thursday morning on the fatal April 20 fatal explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Post is reporting that Obama will announce Thursday the cancellation of plans for proposed lease sales off the Virginia coast as well as new lease sales off the coast of Alaska and a six-month ban on drilling new deepwater oil wells.

Moran said Virginia should be worried about more than environmental concerns -- the Pentagon is opposed to drilling. (A newly released U.S. Defense Department report shows that exploratory drilling off almost three-quarters of the shoreline where the government has proposed those activities is incompatible with military operations and training.)

"Naval operations in Norfolk represent thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in economic activity,'' Moran said. "Our naval assets, including the ongoing battle to keep a major aircraft carrier from being relocated to Florida, far outweigh the illusory benefits from drilling."

Obama announced in March that Virginia would become one of the first East Coast states to drill offshore for oil and natural gas. Companies could have started bidding on contracts to conduct exploratory drilling in waters 50 miles off the state's coast late next year or early in 2012.

Thew news is a blow to Gov. Bob McDonnell McDonnell (R), who has made drilling off Virginia's coast one of his administration's top priorities.

On his monthly call-in show on WRVA in Richmond Thursday morning, McDonnell said he had not heard all the details of Obama's announcement yet.

"We certainly do not want to have a disaster like that off the Atlantic coast,'' he said. "But, you know, as Americans, we believe in progress. We don't get give up. We just do the right thing and try to figure out what caused setbacks and then move forward."

By Anita Kumar  |  May 27, 2010; 9:55 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , James P. Moran Jr. , Robert F. McDonnell  
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