Bush continues to lifts off shore drilling bans

The U.S. Minerals Management Service said today it is considering selling leases to drill for oil and natural gas off the coast of Virginia. This has been banned since 1983. The 2.9-million-acre study area off the Virginia coast is within 55 miles of the N.C. coast.

The MMS will entertain public comments and evaluate the possible environmental impacts of drilling offshore Virginia. The study area is 50 miles off the Virginia coast and “50 miles off the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay,” pointed out Michael Gravitz of Environment America.  A catastrophic oil spill might wash into the bay, fouling wetlands and wildlife in the already struggling estuary.  He also warned that ocean currents could carry any contaminants northward to Ocean City and the Delaware beaches.  At risk, he said, would be the bay’s beleagured crabs, Assateague Island’s picturesque wild ponies and the mid-Atlantic’s popular vacation resorts.

…All that risk” for just enough oil to supply the nation’s needs for one week or two at the most.

Details on how the public can comment on the proposed lease will be published Thursday in the Federal Register.

Although it has started gathering information, the agency said no official decision has been made to actually hold a lease sale. If the agency decides to allow drilling, the first lease sale for the area is proposed for 2011.

Excerpts from Drill, Virginia, drill? -Tim Wheeler  Baltimore Sun  Nov. 12, 2008

image courtesy The federal Minerals Management Service says it will do an environmental study of a potential drilling area off the Virginia coast, 55 miles from the N.C. coast. This graphic shows the proposed drilling area of the North Carolina coast. Source: U.S. Dept. of the Interior/Minerals Management Service


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