East Coast Governors Split on Drilling


President Obama's announcement Wednesday (March 31) that the federal government would allow new offshore oil and gas drilling, primarily off the East Coast, received a mixed reaction from governors of the affected states.

Some saw it as long-overdue while others raised economic and environmental concerns. But the reactions did not break down along party lines.

"I think that America has abundant natural resources," Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist, a U.S. Senate candidate, said, according to The Newshour on PBS . "So long as we can do in a way that protects our beautiful state — and I believe that we can with new technology — we should explore it. The president is right."

"This is part of our plan to truly make Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast," Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, a Republican who was elected last year, said, according to The Washington Post . "This is a great day for Virginia. It's one that we will say that in the near future has generated a significant number of jobs. This is the breakthrough."

The other Republican governor elected last year, Chris Christie of New Jersey, had a very different reaction, even though his state, which relies heavily on its beach tourism industry, is only indirectly affected by Obama's plan. The proposal would allow drilling off nearby Delaware, but not New Jersey.

"I oppose the idea of drilling off the coast of New Jersey," Christie said, according to The Star-Ledger of Newark . "New Jersey's coastline is one of our economic engines and I would have to be really convinced of both the economic viability and environmental safety of oil and gas exploration off our coast. At this point, I'm not convinced of either."

North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue, a Democrat, also expressed dismay at the decision. "The federal government is moving forward with this plan with or without us," she said, according to The News and Observer of Raleigh . But she said she would remain "aggressively engaged" in protecting the state's interests, the paper reported.

Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, meanwhile, expressed skepticism that the federal government would share revenues from the new plan fairly with the states. "We believe that any proposal that leaves all risks with the states, and all rewards with the federal government, to be fundamentally flawed," he said, according to The Post and Courier of Charleston.


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