Obama Administration Blocks Oil Drilling Off Virginia’s Coast

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    Great news from Environment Virginia. For more, see the New York Times article, which reports that “the Interior Department has indefinitely suspended plans for an oil and gas lease sale off the Virginia coastline.” Sorry, Bob, there goes your “drill baby drill!” 🙂

    Richmond – In a reversal of its recent announcement on offshore drilling off the coast of Virginia, the Obama administration today announced its decision to suspend Lease Sale 220 off the coast of Virginia citing the ongoing review of OCS safety issues. The announcement comes in light of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank in the past two weeks.

    “The Obama administration has taken an important first step today by delaying lease sale 220,” said Environment Virginia Policy Advocate J.R. Tolbert. “We are optimistic that the Department of Interior’s review of this tragedy will convince them of what we know to be true, offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous business.”

    The Department of Interior postponed the public comment period on the proposed Lease Sale indefinitely and canceled a series of public meetings that were to be held this month due to safety concerns. The department has said that safety problems or other concerns raised in the reviews will be considered before moving forward with a new lease sale.

    The Minerals Management Service (MMS) also canceled the upcoming public hearing scheduled for May 12 in Norfolk that was scheduled to solicit input on lease sale 220, as well as the environmental impacts associated with geological exploration off the Virginia coast. MMS reports that the environmental analysis will continue as planned and not be affected by cancellation of the lease sale.

    “Unfortunately, today’s actions by the Interior Department will not permanently protect Virginia’s coast from drilling. By conducting seismic testing and only temporarily postponing the lease sale the administration continues its march towards the sea,” continued Tolbert.

    Environment Virginia is campaigning across Virginia to involve the public on this issue. The group is conducting a citizen outreach campaign to generate public comments to the Obama administration and elevate the issue in the public eye. Their goal is to permanently protect Virginia’s coast from drilling.

    “The recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico needs to serve as a wakeup call. President Obama has the authority to protect our coasts from drilling with the stroke of a pen. Using that authority would deliver change that we can believe in,” concluded Tolbert.