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Environment

Government Shutdown Postpones Offshore Drilling Hearings

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BOEM
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Hearings on plans to open New England and most of the nation's coastline to offshore drilling have been postponed due to the government shutdown.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was set to talk about the proposal in Concord on Tuesday. It’s rescheduling that meeting and others this week in Maine, Boston, and Providence, while some of its funding is suspended and employees are furloughed.

Hearings in the drilling hubs of Louisiana and Alaska are also postponed this week. A hearing in Hartford, Connecticut, is still set for February.

The Interior Department will use the meetings to get feedback on whether to offer new drilling opportunities off both coasts, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

Many public officials in the Northeast, including New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, oppose the drilling, while Maine Gov. Paul LePage has expressed support for it.

The bureau says there have never been commercial discoveries or leases in the North Atlantic. It estimates the area holds 3 percent of the nation's economically viable oil and gas reserves.

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