Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Virginia left out of offshore drilling
The Obama administration today announced a plan to open up more areas in the Gulf and in Alaska to offshore drilling over the next five years. But the plan excludes Virginia, where state leaders have pushed for offshore drilling, and the rest of the Eastern seaboard.
Politicians from both parties expressed disappointment. Here’s a roundup of press statements:
Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, said Obama’s decision not to allow drilling off Virginia would cost the state thousands of potential jobs.
“There is a burgeoning energy exploration industry, hundreds of millions of dollars in new capital investment, and thousands of new jobs at stake if Virginia is not allowed to pursue its innovative and comprehensive energy strategy,” McDonnell said in a press release. “This is another glaring example of the abysmal failure of the Obama Administration to develop a comprehensive national energy policy. This failure is preventing our great nation from using all of its God-given natural resources and creating good jobs in the process; jobs our citizens desperately need and deserve.”
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., said he hopes the administration will reconsider.
“Oil and gas exploration within the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf–if coupled with an equitable formula for sharing revenues between the state and federal governments–would boost domestic energy production, while benefiting the Commonwealth’s economy,” Webb said in a press release. “As we work to address our energy future here in Congress, it is important to note the administration’s existing authority to include Virginia in the current five-year lease plan, and I once again urge the president to exercise that authority.”
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., also said he hopes there’ll be a change of heart.
“This is disappointing, because the safe, responsible development of offshore energy resources has broad support from Virginians and among the bipartisan elected leadership of the state,” Warner wrote. “I will be strongly urging the administration to take another look at including Virginia in its five-year plan.”
House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, R-7th:
“Offshore energy exploration and development in the commonwealth has bipartisan support and would help put Virginians back to work, generate millions of dollars in revenue, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Cantor wrote. “I strongly encourage President Obama and Secretary Salazar to reconsider including Virginia in the proposed five-year plan so we can move forward with offshore drilling in a safe and responsible way that will utilize American technology, innovation and create jobs.”
Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st, said he’ll push for changes to the regulations.
“I am extremely disappointed that this Administration is – against our will – closing off Virginia’s energy resources,” Wittman wrote. “This is an important component in a multi-step, all-of-the-above energy plan that will lessen our dependence on other nations for our energy, and that can create solid jobs for folks across Virginia and across the country.”
Former governor and Republican U.S. Senate candidate George Allen:
“This Administration’s counterproductive, punishing energy policies are destroying jobs and increasing costs for Virginia families and small businesses,” Allen wrote. “States ought to have the right to decide for themselves whether they want to explore and develop our plentiful energy resources, not the unelected, unaccountable federal bureaucrats in Washington.”
Former governor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine:
“I believe that clean, renewable energy will power our future. In the meantime, responsible domestic production can help create jobs, generate revenue, improve national security, and address our energy needs while clean energy technology is developed,” Kaine wrote. “I hope the Department of Interior and the Obama administration will recognize the bipartisan support for developing Virginia’s offshore energy resources and add Virginia to the current lease sale.”