Offshore Atlantic drilling divides lawmakers, environmentalists

WASHINGTON - RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - From Delaware to Florida, President Barack Obama's decision to open portions of the East Coast to oil and gas exploration is getting a mixed reception.

Environmentalists call the decision a "wholesale assault" on the oceans, while some coastal residents and lawmakers are applauding the idea of cheap energy and jobs that oil platforms off their beaches could bring.

Obama's plan allows new energy drilling off Virginia's shoreline and considers it for a large chunk of the Atlantic seaboard.

Reaction among the region's political leaders is mixed. Some say Obama's decision will help ease the nation's reliance on foreign energy reserves.

Shrimpers welcome the idea, but tourism officials are fretting.

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