The administration blocks such activity in its offshore leasing plan that runs through 2017. It had originally planned to offer lease sales in the mid-Atlantic, but backed off the idea after the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The White House also has said it won’t budge on offshore drilling, even to get one of the president’s energy goals — a so-called “Energy Security Trust” — off the ground.
Obama has proposed the trust as a basic research fund for alternative fuels and vehicles, deriving funds from offshore oil and gas revenue.
But creating the trust requires congressional approval. Republicans would likely demand an increase in offshore drilling, which the White House has rejected.
Kaine, however, said there’s congressional momentum from coastal lawmakers to expand offshore drilling. He noted several proposals to do so already exist, and that some Democrats — such as Sen. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE (D-La.) — would join Republicans in supporting them.
The trick, though, is getting Senate Democratic leadership to go along with such efforts, which is unlikely.
But if the bill can get around that obstacle and make it to Obama’s desk, Kaine said he thinks it could push the president to reconsider his offshore leasing plan.
“Their argument might have been ‘Hey, it’s premature to do this.’ But this is something that might be able to move that along,” Kaine said.