214-v-37-(Mark Smith, AP White House correspondent)-In a major reversal, the Obama administration has decided not to allow offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic Ocean.

"We heard from many corners that now is not the time to offer oil and gas leasing off the Atlantic coast", Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior said.

Big Oil had targeted our coasts, but President Obama has reversed his decision to open the Atlantic seaboard for offshore drilling.

The decision came after local communities and several environmentalist groups expressed strong rejection to what might have open drilling sites, more than 50 miles from Virginia, Georgia and North and SC by the year 2021.

Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said prevention of drilling could also help slow the sea level rise that threatens Maryland by keeping fossil fuel reserves untapped.

Other aspects of the president five-year energy plan, which has already undergone several rounds of public hearings, will move forward, such as an expansion of exploration and possible drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the prospect of limited drilling in the Alaskan Arctic.

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More than a hundred coastal towns and cities, including every town on the SC coast and all but five on the North Carolina coast, have passed resolutions against offshore drilling and seismic testing.

The Atlantic coast has been off-limits to drilling for decades. But again, oil companies might not be hungry for new ventures at the moment: Shell abandoned its plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean past year. This is also great news for our economy since our coastal tourism industry supports almost 500,000 jobs.

The Department of the Interior is expected to announce full details of the new measures some time this week.

Not drilling in the Atlantic coast could further hurt the declining oil and gas industry. It drew instant opposition from seaside and tourist communities in all those states, including Myrtle Beach and Charleston in SC.

Jacqueline Savitz, vice president of Oceana, said: "President Obama has taken a giant step for our oceans, for coastal economies and for mitigating climate change".

The new lease plan for 2017 to 2022, revised from a previous version released a year ago, still includes new lease sales in the Arctic and Gulf of Mexico, but removes the highly controversial eastern portion of the outer-continental shelf.