[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/06/art.getty.obama.address.spe.jpg caption="The Obama administration moved Thursday to halt a drilling project off the coast of Virginia."]New York (CNNMoney.com) - The Obama administration took the first concrete steps Thursday to make good on its pledge to halt new offshore drilling projects, suspending the approval process for new wells off of the Virginia coast.
The Minerals Management Service, part of the Interior Department and the agency charged with issuing new drilling leases, had scheduled three public hearings in Virginia this month to solicit public comment about new wells off of the state's coast.
The agency said on Thursday that these meetings are now suspended indefinitely, pending a government safety review of offshore drilling.
The process was halted "so that information from the ongoing review of outer continental shelf safety issues that the President has directed can be appropriately considered in those meetings," according to an MMS statement.