Factbox: Reaction to Obama's drilling plan mixed

Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:51pm EDT

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(Reuters) - President Barack Obama's plans for an expansion of U.S. offshore oil and gas drilling, announced on Wednesday, drew a mixed reaction.

Following is a sampling of comments from U.S. politicians, interest groups and companies on the proposal.

* Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell:

"Today's announcement is a step in the right direction, but a small one that leaves enormous amounts of American energy off limits. And the proof of the administration's announcement will be in the implementation: Will the administration actually take concrete steps to finish the studies, approve the necessary permits, and open these areas for production? Will they stand by as their allies act to delay the implementation in the courts?"

* John Felmy, chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute:

"Every additional amount of oil is important because it results in improved economy, revenue ... and it's oil that we don't have to import. We really don't know what's there until we get out there and do modern seismic techniques and really scope out an area that hasn't been looked at for 30 years or more. So, it's a good start."

* House of Representatives Republican Leader John Boehner:

"The Obama administration continues to defy the will of the American people who strongly supported the bipartisan decision of Congress in 2008 to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling not just off the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, but off the Pacific Coast and Alaskan shores as well. Opening up areas off the Virginia coast to offshore production is a positive step, but keeping the Pacific Coast and Alaska, as well as the most promising resources off the Gulf of Mexico, under lock and key makes no sense at a time when gasoline prices are rising and Americans are asking 'Where are the jobs?'"

* Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club:

"We're very disappointed to see important areas like the Arctic coast and the Mid and South Atlantic stay open to oil drilling. ... Drilling our coasts will doing nothing to lower gas prices or create energy independence. It will only jeopardize beaches, marine life and coastal tourist economies, all so the oil industry can make a short-term profit."

* Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman, chairman of Senate Energy Committee:

"I commend (U.S. Interior) Secretary (Ken) Salazar for proposing a plan that makes available for leasing much of the potential offshore oil and gas resources that the federal government owns. I also commend him for indicating that additional studies will be undertaken before making a final decision on leasing in areas that might be environmentally sensitive."

* Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg:

"Giving Big Oil more access to our nation's waters is really a 'Kill, Baby, Kill' policy: it threatens to kill jobs, kill marine life and kill coastal economies that generate billions of dollars. Offshore drilling isn't the solution to our energy problems, and I will fight this policy and continue to push for 21st century clean energy solutions."

* Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is working to craft a compromise climate change bill:

"I thought the president's speech correctly emphasized the national security aspects of this problem. He did a very good job of explaining the challenges we face and how our own national security is placed at increased risk by our reliance on foreign oil. ... As to the Obama administration's proposal for environmentally sound offshore exploration for American oil and natural gas, this is a good first step. But there is more that must be done to make this proposal meaningful and the game-changer we all want it to become."

(Compiled by Will Dunham in Washington, Editing by Sandra Maler)

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