Interior Department Withdraws Offshore Drilling Plan

Date: March 17, 2016

Officials Cancel Atlantic Drilling Plan After Concerns From Coastal Communities, Defense Department

In a move the New York Times said “surprised many,” the Interior Department has withdrawn its plan to allow oil and gas drilling off the southeast Atlantic coast. According to Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell, the decision “was chiefly driven by the widespread concerns of coastal communities,” along with the Defense Department’s “reservations about permitting drilling near some of its largest installations.” The Times says that “some of the political backlash” to the cancellation of the plan may also be eased now that the US is experiencing near-record low oil prices. Reuters reported the Interior Department also based the decision on concerns that drilling might interfere with coastal military and commercial operations. Said Jewell, “We heard from many corners that now is not the time to offer oil and gas leasing off the Atlantic coast. … When you factor in conflicts with national defense, economic activities such as fishing and tourism, and opposition from many local communities, it simply doesn’t make sense to move forward with any lease sales in the coming five years.” The AP said the decision is a “major reversal” as the President works “to build an environmental legacy that includes a global agreement to curb climate change and an ambitious plan to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.”

What This Means For Small Businesses

The Interior Department’s decision to withdraw its proposal for offshore Atlantic drilling is just another example of an administration more interested in leaving a legacy of regulation and bureaucracy than with job creation and jump starting the economy. Small businesses along the Atlantic coast, particularly those involved in the oil and gas industries, could have had abundant opportunities to develop and grow if drilling were permitted.

Additional Reading

McClatchy and USA Today were among the additional outlets covering the story.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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