Virginia Beach backs away from support of offshore drilling

Posted at 6:31 PM, Dec 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-04 18:31:38-05

Virginia Beach, Va. - Hospitality groups in Virginia Beach have asked Virginia Beach City Council to change their stance on offshore drilling, and now it has.

The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 unfolded just after Virginia Beach City Council officially supported oil drilling off the coast. The massive BP spill became a rallying cry for environmentalist, and it also led many in the tourism industry consider how a disaster could wreck the local economy.

The change of the city's stance is welcome news tourism groups but Joe DaBiero, President of the Virginia Beach Hotel Association, says the city still isn't going far enough.

"Stand with us and say look, that is our coastline and we want to protect it. We want no drilling off the coast of Virginia," DaBiero says.

In the past years, a chorus of communities on the East Coast have opposed drilling in the Atlantic. Virginia Beach had declined to go along. And, it still may not. The resolution makes clear the city still isn't opposed to offshore oil, but wants to hear from the defense department first.

"Obviously that would weigh-in dramatically in what our ultimate position would be," says Virginia Beach City Councilman John Uhrin.

Councilman Uhrin says his colleagues have been rethinking this for quite some time. And since they haven't heard yet from the Navy, he said the best approach might be to stay neutral.

"I don't think that we are at a point where we are ready to make a position for or against it. But it also seems unfair that we would let the other position stand while we are still deliberating," he says.


Virginia Beach City Council addresses possibility of drilling off the coast