Obama Administration Officially Blocks Atlantic Oil Drilling

Nov 22, 2016

The Obama administration has released a five-year energy plan that blocks oil drilling off the North Carolina coast and the rest of eastern seaboard, as well as new drilling in parts of the Arctic.

"The plan focuses lease sales in the best places - those with the highest resource potential, lowest conflict and established infrastructure - and removes regions that are simply not right to lease," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

The administration first announced it would block Atlantic drilling last spring, but the energy plan makes it more difficult for the incoming Trump administration to reverse the policy. 

"We look forward to working constructively with the new Congress and the new administration on opportunities that may be present to reverse some of these decisions," said American Petroleum Institute senior policy adviser Andy Radford.

Environmental groups and the Department of the Interior say the plan protects shipping, tourism and wildlife in high-risk areas.

Radford maintains offshore drilling can co-exist.

"You look at the fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico, where almost $1 billion a year in fish is produced.  And we think there's plenty of room for us and these other industries," he said.

President-elect Donald Trump could re-write the rules, but that could now take years. Trump has said he wants to ease restrictions on drilling, but has not been specific about offshore operations.