Obama to open Atlantic to drilling

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In a major shift in U.S. policy, President Obama is expected to open the door to oil and gas drilling in parts of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Interior Department is poised to release as early as Tuesday a five-year lease plan that would allow drilling in the mid- and south-Atlantic off the coasts of the Carolinas and Georgia.

During an interview with NPR on Tuesday, Interior Secretary Sally JewellSally JewellFeds deny permit for Dakota Access pipeline Green groups urge Obama admin to act before Trump takes office Penn Center, site of historic school for freed slaves, deserves to be a national monument MORE confirmed the administration would release the draft five-year leasing plan on Tuesday. 

"While I don’t want to get ahead of the announcement that we’ll have this afternoon, I will say that there is ongoing support in our draft proposed plan for exploration in both the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. I will also say that there are areas up there and elsewhere in the country that we believe are too special to develop," Jewell said. 

"So the plan takes into account the areas that we believe are appropriate for development and the areas that we believe are inappropriate for development and we will be providing detail on that a little later on today."

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The Wall Street Journal reports leases off the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas are expected to make it into the plan. 

The plan would not allow drilling in waters near Florida, Delaware or Maryland, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle. 

It would also allow drilling in some Arctic waters and areas along the West Coast.

The announcement comes as the administration separately said it would declare parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off limits to drilling. 

The administration is required to release a five-year plan for oil and gas lease sales that controls the schedule and territory of sales.

The Interior Department has yet to release the plan and has not commented on its contents.