White House Expected to Ban Offshore Oil Drilling in Eastern Gulf

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White House officials are expected to announce Wednesday a temporary ban on offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, according to published reports. The move would be counter to previous plans the White House outlined just prior to the BP oil spill in April.

According to a Washington Post report, the ban would apply to the eastern portion of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The ban would be part of a future five-year drilling plan, the Post noted.

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Previously, President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had said portions of the Atlantic, such as the coast off Virgina, and the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico would be opened for offshore oil drilling. But the change of heart reportedly comes as the White House recognizes, in the wake of the massive Gulf of Mexico disaster, a need for increased safety and environmental standards, according to an Associated Press report.

Interior secretary Ken Salazar and Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement, will hold a press conference later today to provide an update on the administration's offshore oil and gas policy.
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