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Obama Administration Blocks Atlantic Oil Drilling


FILE - A Nov. 22, 2013, photo shows a deep-water drilling platform.

In a major policy reversal, the Obama administration is barring oil drilling off the U.S. Atlantic coast.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday the decision comes after listening to thousands of people from New England fishing villages to Florida beach resorts and the Pentagon which conducts military drills in the ocean.

Jewell said the decision "protects the Atlantic for future generations.”

"When you factor in conflicts with national defense, economic activities such as fishing and tourism ad opposition from many local communities, it simply doesn't make sense to move forward with any lease sales in the coming five years."

The White House announced a plan last year that would have opened a large area of the Atlantic Ocean from Virginia to Georgia to oil and natural gas drilling 80 kilometers off shore.

Environmentalists are thrilled the administration is scrapping its plans.
The oil industry is not. The head of the American Petroleum Institute says the decision "appeases extremists" who want to stop U.S. oil and natural gas production.

Oil and gas drilling leases that will be available for sale starting in 2017 include 10 areas in the Gulf of Mexico and three sites off Alaska, but not portions of the state's Beaufort and Chukchi seas and Bristol Bay which Obama has already declared off-limits for environmental reasons.