Interior chief says no new drilling in Atlantic as GOP forges ahead

That’s irked Republicans, who want oil and gas firms to have more access to offshore waters.

Earlier Thursday, a subpanel of the House Natural Resources Committee discussed a bill that would open the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to drilling.

Jewell’s remark hints strongly that Obama would veto the bill should it ever get to his desk — but Republicans plan to forge ahead regardless.

The legislation (H.R. 2231) from committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) is similar to a bill he sponsored last year that cleared the GOP-controlled House.

That bill picked up no traction in the Senate. It's unlikely to see the light of day this session, though some Senate Democrats have warmed to the idea.

Hastings's bill would require Obama to submit another five-year plan — this one ending in 2020 — that includes zones off the coasts of California, South Carolina and Virginia.

The bill “clearly states that the president's plan is unacceptable and it requires him to put a new offshore leasing plan in place by 2015,” Hastings said Thursday in his opening remarks.

“In contrast to the president's no-new energy plan, this is a drill-smart plan that focuses energy production in specific areas containing the greatest known oil and natural gas resources,” he said.