Interior suspends planning for Virginia offshore oil-and-gas lease sale

An Interior Department spokeswoman said the action stems from President Obama’s late April order that Interior conduct a 30-day study of new safeguards needed for offshore development.

“The Department of the Interior is temporarily postponing public meetings on potential offshore activities so that information from the ongoing review of OCS [Outer Continental Shelf] safety issues that the President has directed can be appropriately considered in those meetings,” said spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez.

“Additionally, the Minerals Management Service and its Gulf of Mexico staff have focused their attention on the Deepwater Horizon incident and would be unable to conduct the meetings until a later date,” she said, referring to the April 20 rig explosion that led to the ongoing oil spill.

Interior estimates that the region off Virginia’s coast slated for development contains 130 million barrels of oil and 1.14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.