President Obama plans to announce that he will drop a proposal to drill for oil in the Arctic, and dramatically scale back drilling plans for America’s southeast coast, the Guardian reports.
The plan to kill Arctic drilling was “widely expected,” the Guardian said, after President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last week they would adhere to ‘science-based standards’ for any new oil and gas ventures there.
The news also comes less than 24 hours after the Washington Post reported the Defense Department expressed strong reservations with the Atlantic part of the proposal. “[The Defense Department] conducts major systems testing activities in the mid-Atlantic region that are… important to military readiness,” a Pentagon spokesman had said.
In January of 2015, the Obama administration announced what it called “a balanced proposal” to open up federal drilling leases from the coasts of Virginia to Florida, designed to make nearly 80% of recoverable resources available.
At the time, governors in nearly all the states that would have been affected expressed support for the plan. But residents of coastal communities came out strongly against the proposal. “Our area has a billion-dollar tourist industry,” Monica Thibodeau, a member of the Town Council in Duck, N.C., told the New York Times earlier this month. “The risk of drilling isn’t worth losing that.”
The Guardian says that now, all federal drilling leases will not be made available save off the coast of Virginia, “where Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic governor, has been in favor of offshore oil.”
“If these reports are correct that the Obama Administration plans to end consideration of drilling off the Atlantic coast, this is an incredible day,” Sierra Weaver, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, said in a statement. “It would reflect the hard work of thousands of people and a collection of communities and elected leaders from both parties who stood up to protect the Southeast’s beautiful beaches. We eagerly await an official announcement.”