USA

Trump bans oil drilling off Virginia, North Carolina coasts

President Trump on Friday announced a ban on oil drilling off the coast of North Carolina and Virginia — expanding an Atlantic moratorium he established this month.

Trump announced the surprise restrictions at a large campaign rally in Newport News, Virginia.

He had earlier this month banned drilling off the coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

“You’re gonna be so happy Virginia and North Carolina,” Trump said at the rally.

“Come on, North Carolina, you’re going to be so happy, you’re going to be cheering like crazy,” he said, as rally attendees indeed cheered.

Trump recounted his surprise Atlantic ban for the other states, announced Sept. 8, before telling the crowd he was stretching the 10-year moratorium northward.

“Because I happen to like this state a lot, I said, ‘What about, Virginia? What about North Carolina?'” Trump said.

“So I’m extending the moratorium to North Carolina and Virginia. And if you want to have oil rigs out there just let me know, we’ll break it off. I can understand that, too.”

Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden are in a close contest in North Carolina, according to polls. Trump said at the rally he’s also hopeful about his chances in Virginia, which he lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Trump also praised US “energy independence” and slammed Biden’s energy policy.

Biden “wants to ban fracking, how about that?” Trump said, referring to Biden’s walked-back pledge to ban new hydraulic fracking for oil and natural gas.

Trump has particularly honed that attack in swing-state Pennsylvania.

Earlier this month Trump compared himself to conservationist President Teddy Roosevelt during a speech in Florida announcing the initial Atlantic drilling ban, which was an unexpected broadening of a more limited Gulf Coast moratorium.

“Number one since Teddy Roosevelt. Who would have thought, Trump is the great environmentalist?” Trump said in Florida. “I am, I am. I believe strongly in it.”

The sudden offshore drilling ban caught some industry insiders off-guard.

“It’s a complete ambush,” an oil industry official told Politico. “Nobody knows where this came from. It totally seems like a campaign sort of thing.”

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