Interior Department Cancels East Coast Offshore Hearings

The Interior Department is canceling indefinitely hearings on the proposed sale of gas and oil leases off the coast of Virginia.

The postponement is contained in a notice of the Federal Register, and environmentalists said it signals a suspension of the lease sale off of Virginia.

Gov. Bob McDonnell's energy secretary, Maureen Matsen, contends the government is taking a "prudent" step in suspending the hearings while it deals with the Gulf oil spill.

The hearings were to be held in Norfolk, North Carolina and Maryland.

The Interior Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

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