Just because gas and oil prices have fallen during the global economic crunch does not mean the energy crisis is over. President Bush gave a parting shot in the arm to the industry by moving ahead with offshore drilling as promised. The big question is will the incoming Obama administration continue with the plans or halt the process altogether?
It is hard to decipher at this point because of all the changes in policies Obama supported during the course of his candidacy. He was initially against drilling in support of properly inflated tires, then reversed position because of
public polling rising cost at the pumps in tough economic times. It is worth mentioning that President-elect Obama's new interior secretary nominee Ken Salazar -- a Democratic senator from Colorado expressed support for offshore drilling during the summer.
The U.S. Interior Department has completed the first step, closing a public comment period on the proposal to lease 2.9 million acres of ocean to natural gas and oil companies. The pie-shaped area begins 50 miles off Virginia's coast, straight out from Virginia Beach on the south and across from Virginia's boundary on the Delmarva peninsula to the north.
"The East Coast really has not been looked at for 30 years," said Randall Luthi, who heads up the drilling plan as director of Interior's Minerals Management Service. Luthi spoke from his Washington office to CNN Radio.
"Our best guess is that area could contain about 130 million barrels of oil and 1.14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas," he said.
The U.S. Interior Department said on Friday it extended the public comment period for two weeks on whether the government should lease tracts off the Virginia coast for oil and natural gas drilling. The department's Minerals Management Service issued a notice last month requesting comments for preparing a report on the possible environmental impacts of drilling offshore Virginia.