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.

    • After just fishing in the Bay this past weekend, I couldn’t imagine the place being a dead body of water for a decade.

    • The Department made the right decision. It’s wholly appropriate given that thousands of gallons of oil continue to pour into the Gulf from a drilling accident we have yet to fully comprehend. Experts are concerned that the disaster could spread up the East Coast, contaminating Virginia’s shores, if containment efforts fail.

      In light of these facts, moving forward on the lease sale at this time would be highly inappropriate. I appreciate the Obama administration’s wise course of action.

    • VADEM

      my my my. Bobby’s gonna be mad! Maybe he’ll ask Kook to sue the Dept. of interior!

    • is showing that “Support for Offshore Drilling Has Plummeted Among Both Parties.”  

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      Even the oil-loving governor had this to say just a day or so ago, according to a press release from his office:

      “Virginia’s seafood industry is one of the oldest industries in the United States and one of the Commonwealth’s most economically important…The annual economic impact of the industry is over half a billion dollars a year, and there are approximately 11,000 full and part-time jobs in Virginia connected to the seafood industry. It is a vital part of the Virginia economy of today and tomorrow.”

      Surely, the man can see that endangering that industry – not to mention the even much coastal tourism industry and the value of our naval installations – trumps some remote possibility that enough oil will be found off shore to make drilling viable, or that the federal government will share revenue with the state.

      The whole “drill, baby, drill” idea McDonnell made a part of his phony “transportation plan” was bogus from the start.

    • chimes in.

      …as quoted in The New York Times today, an Interior Department spokesperson says the agency is “temporarily postponing public meetings on potential offshore activities so that information from the ongoing review of OCS [Outer Continental Shelf] safety issues that the president has directed can be appropriately considered in those meetings.”

      Great news for Virginia’s beach lovers!

      Let’s hope the Obama administration learns from the Gulf Coast catastrophe that drilling our fragile shores is not worth the risk to natural resources or our coastal economies that depend on a clean and healthy ocean.  It’s time to break our addiction to oil and other dirty fuels by passing comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation.

      Drill, baby, still?  No way!

    • This decision by the Department of the Interior is desperately welcomed by concerned Virginians across the state. We should not be gambling with Virginia’s fragile tourism and fishing industries when we still don’t know what went wrong in the Gulf. Now is also the best time to re-double efforts to develop clean offshore wind farms in Virginia instead. Risky oil platforms along the Commonwealth’s coast will only bring a few day’s worth of U.S. oil supply at best. We need a permanent commitment of offshore Virginia wind energy, which could power 3.6 million electric cars, and a permanent moratorium on dangerous crude oil ‘Russian roulette’ in the state.

    • Old Redneck

      Tell him to start a suit against Dept of Interior!!

      And you think I’m kidding — just wait.

    • Senator Warner believes it is appropriate and reasonable to delay any new offshore oil projects until safeguards are in place to prevent rig explosions like the one that caused the Gulf spill. Senator Warner believes it is critically important that we take the time to responsibly incorporate what we might learn from the Gulf tragedy as we move forward.

      “It is important to remember that any energy production off the Virginia coast is at least seven-to-ten years away. Even with this delay in hearings, that time frame  allows Virginians multiple opportunities to participate in federal and state reviews of potential energy production off the mid-Atlantic coast.”