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Renita Jablonski: The national debate over offshore oil drilling resumes in earnest today. The Department of the Interior will hold the first of four public hearings around the country, starting today in Atlantic City. Joel Rose reports.
Joel Rose: The hearings will focus on a controversial plan to open up the Outer Continental Shelf for more oil and gas exploration. The Bush administration was all for it. Then in February, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar put the breaks on the plan, but he told the AP he hasn’t ruled it out completely.
Ken Salazar: There are places appropriate for exploration and development, and places that are not.
Environmental activists want the Obama administration to go a step further.
Cindy Zipf: That should be off the table.
Cindy Zipf of the Ocean Action Council in New Jersey plans to testify against exploration at today’s hearing.
Zipf: It’s really an oxymoron to have a green energy policy when you’re actually expanding drilling in one of the most environmentally sensitive areas on the planet.
Zipf says exploration would hurt the state’s tourism and fishing industries. The Interior Department estimates there are 18 billion barrels of oil in the Outer Continental Shelf that remain off-limits to drilling.
I’m Joel Rose for Marketplace.
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