Atlantic drilling abandoned for now

“We’re thrilled that whales, dolphins, and coastal communities will be protected from the dangers of drilling in the Atlantic, but prohibiting new leases off the East Coast isn’t enough,” said Miyoko Sakashita, who directs the oceans program at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “President Obama needs to follow his own climate rhetoric and stop allowing new oil and gas drilling in all of our oceans.”

The Obama administration dropped its plan to open the coast of Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas to oil and gas drilling.

But contrary to environmentalist expectations and early press reports, the Obama administration will continue to offer new leases for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Alaskan coast. The moves came as part of a revised proposal from the Department of the Interior handling offshore fossil-fuel drilling from 2017 to 2022. The proposal is not final.

The revised plan will open 10 new leasing sites in the Gulf of Mexico and three new sites off the Alaskan coast. It’s still unclear whether those Arctic sites will actually be leased: Last year, Royal Dutch Shell abandoned its plan to drill for oil in the northern latitudes after spending $7 billion on a single exploratory well, in part because the price of oil has cratered.

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