ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports: When President Obama announced this year that he would support offshore oil drilling in new areas — ending a moratorium and bringing rigs to the Atlantic coast, Alaska and the Eastern Gulf — it angered many environmentalists.
And opposition continues to grow: Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., announced Thursday he wants to block President Obama’s offshore oil drilling plan at least while the Deep Water Horizon investigation is ongoing. Read: He wants to kill President Obama’s offshore oil drilling plan.
In a letter to the president, Nelson says he’ll offer legislation to block the plan. “Its unclear whether any additional shut-off controls would have made a difference in this case. But the questions about the practices of the oil industry raised in the wake of this still-unfolding incident require that you postpone indefinitely plans for expanded offshore oil drilling operations,” writes Nelson.
Now critics of the plan to open up parts of the Mid-Atlantic, particularly waters off Virginia, to offshore oil drilling, are pointing to the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, arguing that there is no truly safe offshore operation. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., took to the Senate floor yesterday to argue that a Virginia-area spill like the one in the Gulf would imperil the coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and the already environmentally challenged Chesapeake Bay. “I heard the advocates of offshore drilling say, 'Well, modern technology has substantially reduced the risk, that we now know how to deal with this issue, and avoid any type of catastrophic environmental risk.' Well, Mr. President, let me share with you this photo,” said Cardin, pointing to evidence of the Deep Water Horizon disaster. “These are the risks inherent in offshore drilling,” he said later. “It underscores my concern and opposition for offshore drilling, as proposed by the president of the United States. So let me talk about why this is not hypothetical to the people of Maryland, but this is a real problem.” He pointed specifically to the Lease Sale 220 area off the coast of Virginia – which politicians from both parties in that state want to open to drilling. Cardin does not. “I just urge my colleagues to take a look at what happened off the Gulf of Mexico and to work with us to make sure that we have sensible energy policy in this country,” he said.