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RICHMOND, VA (AP) — The Republican governors of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina are appealing to the Obama administration’s choice for interior secretary to open up waters off their states’ coasts to gas and oil exploration.

In a letter released Thursday, the governors “implore” Sally Jewell to consider a Republican proposal to open more offshore waters to energy exploration. The letter is signed by Virginia’s Bob McDonnell, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and North Carolina’s Pat McCrory.

The letter states that energy production in the outer continental shelf could create more than 140,000 jobs within the next 20 years.

President Barack Obama canceled scheduled lease sales in Mid-Atlantic waters following the BP oil disaster in the Gulf Coast.

Jewell is chief executive of Recreational Equipment Co. She was nominated by Obama last week.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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