Will coastal oil drilling take a back seat to wind?

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar will not advance plans for offshore oil drilling, saying he will promote “a new way forward,” according to an Associated Press story by reporter H. Josef Hebert.

In a press conference today, Salazar criticized the “midnight timetable” for new oil and gas development on the outer continental shelf of the U.S. He said the Bush administration failed to consider the views of states and coastal communities.

Salazar has directed scientists in his agency to produce new reports about oil and gas supplies off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. He also extended the public comment period until September and says he will hold meetings in the regions where drilling is likely.

Any offshore energy plans should consider renewables, such as wind, he said.

Needless to say, environmentalists were pleased.

Richard Charter of Defenders of Wildlife (PDF 92 kb):

“We will provide comments to the Department explaining that the Bush administration’s plan was the worst five-year offshore drilling plan we’ve ever seen and should be permanently shelved, not just delayed for 180 days.”

House Republicans, in a letter last week to President Obama (PDF 476 kb), voiced their displeasure over the prospect of holding up or canceling plans for offshore drilling:

“As you know, at the height of our nation’s energy crisis last year, the American people spoke with one voice to express their outrage when they saw that not only were we dependent upon foreign oil, but furthermore, that energy resources located within American territory were locked away and could not be developed. Our national vulnerability was on plain display for the American public last summer because we lacked a coherent energy policy to allow for responsible energy exploration and development.”

So does anybody think Salazar’s stance will not be the end of offshore drilling, at least for California and states that have oil but are opposed to drilling?

If you recall, oil industry folks I talked to last summer told me that Washington state would be one of the last places they would drill.

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