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Decision To Cancel Virginia Drilling Draws Applause, Criticism

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By Sabri Ben-Achour

President Obama has canceled a proposed lease sale that would've opened Virginia's coast to offshore drilling. Virginia's governor is not happy with that decision, while environmental groups are heralding the move.

Will Baker is president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. His group, like many environmental organizations, has been arguing against drilling off of Virginia for years and see the Gulf of Mexico spill as a warning.

"Whenever oil is handled around the water, it tends to get into the water," he says. "The quantity is determined by human error and mechanical failure. So it's a great risk for the bay."

Baker says he is relieved and called it "a good day for the bay."

But Virginia's Gov. Bob McDonnell is criticizing the president's decision, implying it was an act of retreat in the face of adversity. McDonnell was counting on offshore drilling to help pay for the state's transportation infrastructure, and was trying to make Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast.

In a statement, the governor says that cancellation wasn't the only alternative, and that the government should have waited to see the results of an environmental impact assessment before making a decision about the sale.

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