For proponents of expanded domestic oil and gas production, the Obama Administration hath given, and it hath taken away. The administration on Tuesday set aside sections of the Alaskan Arctic Ocean for permanent protection, but also announced it would open parts of the Atlantic coast to drilling. That will come as good news to a coalition of governors with close ties to industry that was the subject of a Center investigation last fall.
The move came in a pair of announcements from the White House and the Interior Department, which released a draft plan for drilling off the nation’s coasts.
“It takes a balanced approach to oil and gas development,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, in a call with reporters.
The draft, part of the “Five Year Program” that governs offshore drilling for 2017-2022, would for the first time in decades open access to a stretch of the coast from Virginia to Georgia, though the department has yet to determine where exactly any leasing would occur. That decision, which will take years, is to be based on studies about environmental risks, oil and gas reserves and input from various stakeholders.