Salazar rebuffs Virginia Gov. McDonnell on call for offshore drilling lease sale

McDonnell, shortly before taking office, wrote to Salazar expressing concern about a lack of progress toward the lease sale.

“Any effort to remove or delay Virginia’s participation in the lease sale would significantly hamper our efforts to create jobs, eliminate much-needed new revenue, and undermine support for President Obama’s stated commitment to make the United States more energy secure,” he wrote in a Dec. 23 letter.

Salazar said earlier this week that Interior will begin taking public comment on allowing new seismic studies that industry wants to conduct off the Atlantic Coast. But oil and gas companies fear he will not back up the effort by offering new leases that allow companies to look for and produce oil and gas.

Longstanding drilling bans that covered the coast expired in 2008, but Salazar has not tipped his hand on the administration’s agenda for oil and gas production in federal waters.