The New York Times reported Monday evening that the Obama administration is set to announce today that they have reversed their earlier position and have decided to withdraw their plan for offshore drilling permitting on the Southeast coast.
If true, this would bring a celebration to coastal residents and businesses along Virginia, North Carolina’s Outer Banks and South Carolina who have opposed any prospect of offshore drilling for fear of an environmental disaster.
The New York Times quoted sources within the administration as saying the announcement could come as early as today and would come from the Interior department and the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management.
Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, as well as Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina and Senators from South Carolina, Georgia and Florida all supported the notion of offshore oil and gas drilling as a potential economic boom for those states from the leases that would be let by the federal government.
The unnamed Obama administration source indicated in the New York Times article that one of the main deciding factors in the reversal of the administration’s support for offshore drilling was the backlash received from coastal citizens, businesses and towns. To date more than 106 coastal towns have signed resolutions urging President Obama to reconsider the decision to provide leases to companies on waters off the coast that are under federal jurisdiction. Virginia Beach recently reversed their initial support of offshore drilling after local citizens and business leaders expressed deep concerns about environmental dangers from drilling.
Recently the U.S. Navy also raised objections to oil and natural gas leases offshore indicating that the areas in question were locations where the navy routinely conduct military exercises and the presence of rigs would be incompatible with their operations.
“If this is true, it’s a great day for the Atlantic coast, our beaches and the coastal economy that depends on it,” said Rachel Richardson, program director for the drilling program at Environment America. “This moment has come because Atlantic coast communities, businesses and citizens have all spoken up to protect their beaches, treasured marine life and President Obama listened.”
We will keep you posted!