McAuliffe joins coastal governors pushing Interior Department for offshore drilling exploration

The Obama administration has been decidedly stingy in their permitting allowances for offshore oil-and-gas drilling; in 2012, they released a five-year drilling plan that only allowed for drilling in the Gulf and some limited drilling in the Arctic pending environmental review, and they’ve been pretty hostile to the overtures from lawmakers and companies proposing that they allow for some deviation from that plan. Mid-Atlantic and Southern governors particularly have been trying to convince the Interior Department that it’s in the country’s best interest to reevaluate, especially in the face of the many and obvious economic benefits coming from the shale boom in states like Texas and North Dakota, and it sounds like Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is ready to tie his energy-wagon to that group, via WaPo:

Governors from Mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coast states, including Virginia’s Terry McAuliffe (D), urged Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Monday to finalize rules that will eventually allow dramatically expanded offshore oil and gas drilling, bringing new industry — and millions in new tax revenue — to some states that have been shut out of the U.S. energy boom.

Jewell and senior Interior Department officials met with McAuliffe, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R), Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) on Monday. The Interior Department is expected to release a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement within days that would allow oil and gas companies to begin surveying the outer continental shelf for natural resources.

Once the PEIS is issued, seismic surveys for oil and gas deposits could begin within a matter of months. …

McCrory heads the Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition, a group of mostly Republican governors pushing to expand offshore oil drilling. McAuliffe told The Washington Post he would join the coalition — the first Democrat to do so — as he sped out of the meeting  Monday.

It would be tough for McAuliffe not to join in, and he said he would support offshore drilling back when he was still campaigning — Virginia and other eastern seaboard states have way too much to gain to pass up the opportunity to lobby the Obama administration to get their collective rear in gear — and thankfully, it finally sounds like the Obama administration is feeling a little more amenable to the prospect of at least sizing up what’s out there.

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