AUGUSTA – Federal officials have postponed Monday’s public meeting in Augusta on potential oil and gas exploration in the North Atlantic because of the government shutdown.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management had been scheduled to have an “open-house” style meeting at the Augusta Civic Center from 3 to 7 p.m. on Monday. But the bureau postponed the Augusta event as well as meetings in Concord, N.H., Boston and four other cities this week because funding for government programs lapsed on Saturday amid the political fighting in Washington.

The bureau said the meetings will be rescheduled after federal government offices reopen. Updates on the postponed meetings can be found online at www.boem.gov/National-Program-Participate/#meeting.

On January 4, the Interior Department unveiled a dramatic shift from current policy by proposing to reopen the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines to oil and gas drilling. The five-year draft plan proposes 47 potential lease sales to energy exploration, including two in the North Atlantic in 2021 and 2023 as well as three each in the mid-Atlantic and the South Atlantic.

The proposal has already drawn strong, bipartisan opposition from coastal state governors and members of Congress concerned about how an oil spill could harm tourism, commercial fishing and other parts of the economy. All four members of Maine’s congressional delegation are opposed to reopening the North Atlantic to oil and gas exploration but Gov. Paul LePage has yet to take a firm position on the plan. LePage was among five governors who encouraged Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to examine potential energy reserves all along the Outer Continental Shelf with the expectation that some areas will eventually be exempted because of environmental concerns.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.