Endangered Blue Whales Spotted Off California CoastThe Obama administration has released plans to open up the US Atlantic coast to offshore oil drilling for the first time. Drilling in the Atlantic had been banned for decades, but the ban expired in 2008.

The Obama administration declined to issue leases in the Atlantic after the ban expired, and clamped down even tighter after the enormous 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

But Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said that tougher regulations and oversight since the Deepwater Horizon disaster have improved safety.

Jewell said the latest five-year leasing plan balances access to resources with conservation.

“We have done a huge amount of work since the Gulf of Mexico spill to understand what happened there, to ensure that we are updating our standards so that we learn from the challenges that happened there” Jewell said Tuesday.

“This is a balanced proposal that would make available nearly 80 percent of the undiscovered technically recoverable resources, while protecting areas that are simply too special to develop,” she said. – As reported by the National Journal

The White House proposal does not envision a lease sale before 2021, and the plan requires any drilling to be at least 50 miles from the coast.

Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, a liberal Democrat, said the plan puts his state at risk.

“Offshore oil spills don’t respect state boundaries. A spill off the coast of North Carolina could affect Massachusetts. We saw what happened after the BP spill. My state’s fishing and tourism industry can’t afford that kind of tragedy,” he said.