Interior Dept. Opens Atlantic Coast to Drilling

By Brian Sewell

The Obama administration announced plans on Jan. 26 to open up waters in the Atlantic to oil and gas exploration and drilling. The proposal, which includes the coastlines of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s latest five-year plan, which lays out federal leases for oil and gas development from 2017 to 2022.

The announcement came just two days after the administration took steps to permanently protect millions of acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary coveted by oil companies and cherished by native Alaskans and environmental advocates. The administration first proposed opening the mid-Atlantic to drilling in early 2010, but three weeks later an explosion and blowout at the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico that led to the largest oil spill in U.S. history put those plans on hold.

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