Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Obama administration is reworking its plan to open the southern Atlantic coast to offshore oil exploration because of strong opposition from the Pentagon, which says the activity could hurt military maneuvers and interfere with missile tests the Navy relies on to protect the coast.Early this week, Interior Department officials from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management expect to release an update of its draft proposal to lease federal waters to oil and gas companies off the coasts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.The Pentagon confirmed Sunday that it provided an assessment of Interior's map for oil exploration on the coastal outer shelf "that identifies locations.Interior confirmed last week that an update was in the works but declined to discuss specifics. Under the draft plan released in January 2015, the department would sell leases in federal waters over five years starting in 2017 to companies hoping to prospect for oil, gas and other minerals. Actual drilling might not start for a decade.The update could dampen the enthusiasm that oil industry representatives and southern coastal-state governors showed when the draft was released. According to Interior's estimates, more than 3 billion barrels of oil is recoverable on the outer continental shelf, plus more than 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

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