RICHMOND, VA (WWBT, AP) – President Barack Obama says federal regulators under his watch should have shown a "greater sense of urgency" about tightening oversight of oil and gas.
Obama says a moratorium on new deepwater oil wells is the first of many steps that will be taken to improve oversight of the industry. He credits Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for many reforms, but says "more needs to be done."
Obama says some proposed drilling lease sales off the coasts of Alaska and Virginia and the Gulf Coast will be delayed or canceled.
At a news conference Thursday, he decried what he called a "scandalously close relationship" between regulators and oil companies and said that must be stopped. He said he has confidence Salazar can do that.
Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling issued the following statement today, following Obama's announcement that the White House is canceling Lease Sale 220 off the coast of Virginia that would have opened up the chance for offshore energy exploration. The lease sale was scheduled for 2012.
"I am extremely disappointed that President Obama has chosen to cancel the Virginia lease sale for offshore energy exploration that was scheduled for 2012," Bolling said in the statement.
"While I certainly agree that we need to learn from the accident that recently occurred in the Gulf of Mexico and take additional steps to minimize the chance of an incident of this nature occurring again, I remain convinced that offshore energy development can occur safely and I do not believe that we should abandon or postpone responsible efforts to develop our offshore energy resources.
"Proceeding with this lease sale would enable our country to achieve a greater degree of energy security, while enabling Virginia to achieve a greater degree of economic security. The President's decision will deprive Virginia of the economic resources and jobs that could be created as a result of offshore energy development, resources that are needed to help address critical needs like transportation; and it will keep our country dependent on foreign nations for large amounts of our energy resources. I do not believe that this is the right policy for our country, and I will continue to work to advance the exploration and development of Virginia's offshore energy resources at the earliest possible opportunity."