Governor commends Obama for offshore drilling

Published 11:24 am Saturday, April 3, 2010

To the Editor:

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that Virginia will be the first state on the East Coast to explore for and produce natural gas and oil offshore. I have been a longtime proponent of this important policy since the federal moratorium on Atlantic drilling ended in 2008.

I thank the president and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. The president’s decision to allow energy exploration off Virginia’s coast will mean thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions in new state revenue and tens of billions of dollars in economic impact for the Commonwealth. It will also help our nation take a further step toward energy independence.

Environmentally safe offshore energy exploration and production is good for Virginia workers, the Virginia economy and national security. Just this session the General Assembly passed, with bipartisan support, legislation I requested to authorize offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling and to allocate 80 percent of revenues to transportation and 20 percent to green energy research and development.

The effort to ensure that Virginia stayed on track to hold an offshore lease sale as expeditiously as possible has been a bipartisan one at the federal level as well. I want to specifically thank U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, U.S. Sen. Jim Webb and U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor for their leadership and advocacy on the issue. I also want to thank all the Republicans and Democrats in our congressional delegation who have strongly advocated for offshore energy production.

With Wednesday’s announcement, oil and gas can be produced in an environmentally safe manner 50 miles off Virginia’s coast. Virginians will benefit from the thousands of jobs that will be created and the economic activity and development that will accompany this vital industry’s arrival in the state. However, to fully participate in the positive impact of offshore energy development, the Commonwealth must be included in all royalty and revenue sharing arrangements, in a manner equivalent to what the Gulf Coast states currently receive.

U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte has already introduced legislation, with bipartisan support, to ensure revenue-sharing. I urge our federal representatives to immediately move forward in ensuring Virginia receives our fair share of the revenues derived from our natural resources. I am confident that Congress will act appropriately and expeditiously to ensure this occurs.

Offshore energy production is one part of an “all of the above” approach to ensuring energy security. It is an important component of the comprehensive energy policy that we must enact to move towards greater domestic energy security. We will also do more in Virginia to promote and produce other sources of energy in our borders, including wind, solar, biomass, coal and nuclear.

Wednesday’s announcement means future new jobs for Virginians and much-needed revenue for our Commonwealth. Again, I applaud the president for his decision – and thank all the Virginia leaders from both parties who have worked together to make this announcement possible.

Gov. Bob McDonnell