Offshore drilling platform

*In a reversal of a long-standing ban on most offshore drilling, President
Barack Obama is allowing oil drilling 50 miles off Virginia’s shorelines. At
the same time, he is rejecting some new drilling sites that had been planned
in Alaska.

Obama’s plan offers few concessions to environmentalists, who have been
strident in their opposition to more oil platforms off the nation’s shores.
Hinted at for months, the plan modifies a ban that for more than 20 years
has limited drilling along coastal areas other than the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama was set to announce the new drilling policy Wednesday at Andrews air
base in Maryland. White House officials pitched the changes as ways to
reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil and create jobs – both politically
popular ideas – but the president’s decisions also could help secure support
for a climate change bill languishing in Congress.

The president, joined by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, also was set to
announce that proposed leases in Alaska’s Bristol Bay would be canceled. The
Interior Department also planned to reverse last year’s decision to open up
parts of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. Instead, scientists would study the
sites to see if they’re suitable to future leases.

Obama is allowing an expansion in Alaska’s Cook Inlet to go forward. The
plan also would leave in place the moratorium on drilling off the West

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