Reaction from both sides as Obama floats idea of drilling leases in Atlantic

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WASHINGTON (AP) — It's just an idea being considered -- but there's already plenty of reaction to a plan being floated by the Obama administration that would, for the first time, open up a wide area of the Atlantic Coast to drilling.

Areas more than 50 miles off Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia would be opened to oil companies no earlier than 2021.

Some Northeastern Democrats are objecting, out of concern over oil spills. But South Carolina's Republican governor, Nikki Haley, says it will mean jobs and investment for her state.

Environmental groups are criticizing the idea, saying offshore drilling hasn't gotten safer in the years since the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The oil industry, though, is applauding the move -- saying much of the nation's offshore potential is untapped.

The idea of leases in the Atlantic comes even as the administration moves to restrict drilling indefinitely in environmentally-sensitive areas of Alaska. And Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska calls it a war on her home state.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says it's a "balanced proposal" that will make resources available while still protecting areas that she says are "simply too special to develop."

%@AP Links

230-c-13-(Martin Di Caro, AP correspondent)-"prior to drilling"-AP correspondent Martin Di Caro reports the Obama administration is floating a plan to auction areas located more than 50 miles off Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia to oil companies come 2021. (27 Jan 2015)

<<CUT *230 (01/27/15)££ 00:13 "prior to drilling"

231-w-36-(Jerry Bodlander, AP correspondent, with Senator Ben Cardin, D-Md.)--Some East Coast Democrats are sharply critical of the administration's plan that could open parts of the Atlantic Ocean to oil drilling. AP correspondent Jerry Bodlander reports. (27 Jan 2015)

<<CUT *231 (01/27/15)££ 00:36

194-a-12-(Senator Edward Markey, D-Mass., at news conference)-"our own country"-Senator Edward Markey says the U.S. would take all the riska and foreign countries would benefit from the oil. (27 Jan 2015)

<<CUT *194 (01/27/15)££ 00:12 "our own country"

APPHOTO DCSA121: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voices her opposition after President Barack Obama waded into a decades-long fight over drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, announcing that his administration would pursue a wilderness designation for 12.28 million acres, barring drilling in most of the refuge, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. From left are, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Murkowski, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (27 Jan 2015)

<<APPHOTO DCSA121 (01/27/15)££

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