Obama Backtracks on Atlantic Oil Drilling Proposal

March 15, 2016, 2:15 PM UTC
Virginia Beach Hit By Hurricane Irene
Photograph by Brendan Hoffman—Getty Images

An unlikely duo of environmentalists and the Pentagon received good news today.

The Obama administration announced Tuesday it has reversed course on allowing offshore drilling in the Atlantic, according to The New York Times.

The announcement comes slightly more than a year after the Obama administration signaled plans to open up the southeastern seaboard to oil exploration for the first time in exchange for limiting the industry’s activity in the Arctic. Under that plan, the federal government would begin leasing federal water for oil and gas development starting in 2017.

It was a proposal cheered by state lawmakers, who looked forward to the revenue and jobs that the oil industry could bring.


But in recent months, the plan has received pushback from environmentalists, coastal communities, and the Pentagon. The Pentagon has complained to the Interior Department that opening up parts of the Atlantic coast would interfere with defense activities, The Washington Post reported. Environmentalists, for their part, argued that the proposal would leave states including Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina vulnerable to an environmental disaster like the 2010 BP oil spill.

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