President Obama backs off offshore drilling, for now
President Obama today will call for a six-month extension of a ban on new deepwater oil leases and scrap plans for drilling off Alaska and Virginia. An August lease sale in the western Gulf is also canceled, the White House said this morning.
The retreat comes as a new presidential commission, with Bob Graham as co-chairman, will investigate the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and find ways to prevent future disasters. It arrives on the day the government is to release the findings of a 30-day study into the gulf explosion.
And it likely puts a hold on Obama's previously announced plan to expand drilling along the East Coast and in the eastern part of the gulf.
Obama will detail the changes at a 12:45 p.m. news conference. He heads to the gulf tomorrow, battered by growing criticism about a slow government response.