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American Petroleum Institute

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Offshore oil drilling could come to the Georgia coast. The Obama administration is considering allowing it in the Atlantic, and will soon release a plan that could narrow down where it would be permitted.

The Atlantic has been closed to drilling -- or even looking -- for oil for decades. Last year, the Department of the Interior said it would consider oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. The next step is a draft plan, expected to come out soon, that could declare some areas, or even the entire coast, off limits.

Chris Carlson / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Alice Keyes faced a wall of grassy salt marsh and clapped her hands. She was trying to get a response from clapper rails -- seldom-seen, fat-footed marsh birds.

“When you clap it agitates them and they’ll usually call back,” Keyes said. “But apparently we’re not close enough to them right now.”

She stood on the edge of the St. Marys River, in the very far southeastern corner of Georgia. It’s a classic Georgia coast setting: calm, quiet water with occasional small boats going by. Birds flickered in and out of the otherwise still marsh.

The Obama administration is considering opening up parts of the Atlantic Ocean, from the Georgia coast up to Virginia, to offshore oil and gas drilling. 

But according to an environmental law group, the economic projections that supporters of Atlantic drilling cite are too good to be true. 

A new report said earlier estimates provided by the oil and gas industry overestimate the potential economic benefits of drilling in the Atlantic.