Image courtesy the White House/Flickr.

President Obama proposed a plan Tuesday that would open up big tracts off the Eastern Seaboard for oil and gas drilling, lifting the current  moratorium on drilling in the Atlantic.

The Interior Department outlined a new five year plan that would open up stretches of the southeast Atlantic Seaboard along with new portions of the Gulf of Mexico. The plan also includes opening some areas of offshore Alaska

Bidding rounds for the leases would be conducted from 2017 to 2022.

The proposed program currently includes 14 potential lease sales in eight planning areas: 10 sales in the Gulf of Mexico, three off the coast of Alaska and one in a portion of the Mid-and South Atlantic.

The three Alaska sales would cover one license each in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea and Cook Inlet areas.

“We continue to consider oil and gas exploration in the Arctic and propose for further consideration a new area in the Atlantic Ocean, and we are committed to gathering the necessary science and information to develop resources the right way and in the right places,” interior secretary Sally Jewell said.

The announcement comes on the heels of a plan to classify most of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a federally protected wilderness area, a move Alaska state officials have called a “land grab.”

“This is a balanced proposal that would make available nearly 80 percent of the undiscovered technically recoverable resources, while protecting areas that are simply too special to develop,” Jewell said.

Supporters of the new Interior Department plan said it would create thousands of jobs and generate billions of dollars in tax revenues while also helping the United States move closer to energy independence.


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