The US government on Tuesday announced an about face in its oil drilling plans, saying it will not now be going ahead with plans to allow new offshore drilling in the Atlantic.
Secretary for the Department of the Interior (DOI) Sally Jewell revealed the change in direction, drawing criticism from the oil industry and praise from conservationists, the Pentagon and the numerous east coast communities that had registered their disapproval at town hall meetings and in council votes throughout the past year.
Jewell cited “national defence, economic activities such as fishing and tourism and opposition from local communities” as the main reasons for the change of heart.
The plan, announced in January 2015 as part of a five-year plan for oil development in federal waters, had been to allow auctioning of drilling rights in waters off of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Advocates of drilling lamented the U-turn as a blow to potential economic growth and job creation.
Opponents of drilling welcomed it for avoiding risks to the environment and for helping in the fight against climate change.
The Pentagon’s opposition to the plan was based on concerns that drilling would interfere with military training events.
Also on Tuesday the DOI announced it would be considering offshore oil drilling auctions in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic, again incurring the wrath of environmentalists.