- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - While supported by Virginia’s political establishment, the Obama administration’s decision to open waters off the state’s coast and elsewhere along the Atlantic is being condemned by environmental groups.

Groups like the Sierra Club and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation reacted Tuesday after the administration floated the idea of opening for the first time vast areas off Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia to oil companies in 2021.

The Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club says offshore oil exploration threatens the state’s coastal tourism economy, as well as the fishing industry. The Bay Foundation says offshore drilling creates a new pollution source in waters off the mouth of the bay.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has led the bipartisan support for what he calls responsible oil and gas exploration off the state’s coast.

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