Senators call for drilling offshore Virginia

Sens. Jim Webb (D) and Mark Warner (D) of Virginia, introduced the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2011 this week to include Lease Sale 220 in the 2012-2017 5-Year Program currently in development.  It would also modify the map of the Mid-Atlantic OCS planning area.

“This legislation builds on an earlier proposal that I introduced with Senator John Warner in 2008,” said Senator Webb.  “We must pursue robust policies that include the expansion of our domestic energy resources in a safe and secure manner even as we develop conservation, renewable and efficient energy measures.  Opening up and expanding Virginia’s offshore resources to responsible natural gas and oil exploration holds significant promise for boosting needed domestic energy production, while bolstering the Commonwealth’s economy.”

The legislation contains revenue sharing of royalties with the State of Virginia, a politically contentious issue.

“Our economy and national security will be strengthened by an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to energy, including the expanded production of our own domestic energy resources. We should not be sending hundreds of billions of dollars each year to oil-producing countries that do not like us, ” Senator Warner said.  “This legislation jumpstarts a multi-year process that will include responsible environmental reviews, close consultations with NASA and our military partners in Hampton Roads, and this process will include multiple public hearings. Senator Webb and I firmly believe that Virginians should benefit from any energy resources that are developed off of our coast, and our legislation specifically requires the federal government to make reasonable royalty payments to the Commonwealth.”

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Direct the Department of Interior to include Lease Sale 220 in the nation’s 2012-2017 five-year oil and gas lease plan.
  • Direct the Department of Interior to revise the administrative map of the Mid-Atlantic outer continental shelf (OCS) to more accurately and equitably reflect resources off of Virginia’s coast, and to include those resources in the 2012-2017 leasing plan.
  • Direct the Secretary of Treasury to assign 37.5% of revenues derived from Virginia’s OCS resource development to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Direct the President to assign an additional 12.5% of any revenues toward land and water conservation efforts, public transportation projects and alternative energy development projects in Virginia.

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