McDonnell Calls on Democrats to Support Offshore Drilling
McDonnell Calls On Democratic Candidates to Support Offshore Energy Exploration and Development - Proposes Joint Letter to Secretary of the Interior Following Request by Governor to Delay Process - -Offshore Development will Create Thousands of Jobs; Produce Hundreds of Millions in Revenue-
Richmond- Bob McDonnell, Republican gubernatorial candidate and former Attorney General of Virginia, today asked the three Democratic candidates for Governor to join him in requesting that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar reject Governor Tim Kaine’s recent errant request to further delay the sale of a lease for exploration and development of energy resources off the Virginia coast. (http://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=73372)
Last year the 25-year-old federal moratorium on energy exploration and development off the coast of Virginia was allowed to expire by the United States Congress and the Presidential ban was also lifted. The leasing of exploration and development rights off the Virginia coast is scheduled for 2011, giving Virginia an extremely valuable advantage over other states along the Eastern Seaboard as the first state to explore and drill. However, the delay advocated by Governor Tim Kaine would eliminate Virginia’s ability to start early, and place the Commonwealth into the same five-year program underway for other Atlantic states. This inexplicable obstruction of Virginia’s advance towards energy independence and economic development cannot be permitted.
The development of Virginia’s offshore energy reserves would mean thousands of new jobs and hundreds of millions in tax revenue. A recent study on the issue, produced in 2005 by a professor at Old Dominion University, estimated that offshore natural gas production off of the Virginia coast would, over a 10-year period, likely create 2,578 new jobs, induce capital investment of $7.84 billion, yield $644 million in direct and indirect payroll, and result in $271 million in state and local taxes. The numbers were based on a conservative projection of the possible cubic feet of natural gas existing in the targeted area offshore.
Three years ago, the Virginia General Assembly approved legislation to allow for natural gas exploration off of Virginia’s coast. Due to this proactive move Virginia was included in a 5-year-plan announced by the Interior Department in 2007 to allow for oil and gas drilling in federal waters off the coast of Virginia. (Oil and gas exploration and drilling must be done in tandem under federal regulations) This head start, which the Governor’s request for delay would eliminate, provides Virginia with the ability to be the national leader in offshore energy exploration off the Eastern Seaboard. New industry will move to Virginia if we act now, bringing much needed jobs to the Commonwealth.
The Governor’s letter notes that Virginia law only currently allows for offshore natural gas exploration. Speaking about this argument McDonnell stated, “A Governor committed to offshore energy exploration and development could work with the General Assembly to immediately broaden Virginia’s law to allow that to occur. As Governor of Virginia I will support legislation that will open Virginia’s offshore waters, starting at 50 miles off the coast, to environmentally safe exploration and drilling for oil and gas. Too many jobs and too much revenue are at stake to do otherwise. There is no reason to surrender Virginia’s competitive advantage when this change could easily be achieved next session of the General Assembly. This needed legislative fix is no reason to delay the leasing process scheduled for 2011 for another four years.”
McDonnell continued noting, “I urge the Democratic candidates for Governor to put aside their pandering to special interests and do what’s right for Virginia families. Democrats need to stop saying no to new jobs and revenue for Virginia. Offshore production of natural gas and oil is not the entire solution to our economic and energy challenges, but it is part of the solution and we need to stop with the delays and start making progress. Along with nuclear, solar, renewable and other sources offshore production helps us move toward energy independence and create jobs to get our economy moving again.”
Below is a copy of McDonnell’s proposed joint letter. It was sent to the campaigns for their consideration this morning.
February 27, 2009
The Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary of the Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
We are writing you today as the four candidates for Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Next January one of us will take the oath of office to serve as Virginia’s Chief Executive. For this reason we all have a direct and immediate interest in advancing exploration and development of Virginia’s offshore energy resources.
With the expiration last year of the 25-year-old federal moratorium and the lifting of the Presidential ban on exploring and developing oil and natural gas resources off the Atlantic Coast, the Commonwealth is on the path to beginning the energy exploration process. However, in a letter sent to you Tuesday, Governor Tim Kaine has asked for significant further delay of the signing of any leases until a five-year program is concluded. The Governor is requesting you push back the Virginia lease sale allowing offshore energy exploration and development to begin in 2011, ahead of other Atlantic Coast states. This request should be denied.
Like every other state, Virginia is currently dealing with a tough economy and rising unemployment. We need new jobs, and we need secure sources of energy that do not require leaving Virginians at the mercy of foreign governments adverse to our best interests. Developing our offshore energy resources is an important part of the solution to these needs. The opportunity to begin the process of finding and extracting oil and natural gas not far off our coast, yet out of sight from our beaches, is timely and advantageous. The Gulf of Mexico states have long shown it can be done in an environmentally friendly manner. It is an opportunity that Virginia cannot afford delay or squander.
One study, produced in 2005 by a professor at Old Dominion University, predicted that just offshore natural gas production off of the Atlantic coast near Virginia would, over a 10-year period, likely create 2,578 new jobs, induce capital investment of $7.84 billion, yield $644 million in direct and indirect payroll, and result in $271 million in state and local taxes. This is a conservative projection; actual benefits could in fact be much higher. And this is only for natural gas.
These economic projections, combined with technological developments that have transformed the offshore energy industry, making offshore exploration and drilling environmentally sound, make it clear to us that there is no basis for any further delay in beginning the leasing process. Any changes to Virginia state policy needed to begin such exploration and drilling will be made by 2011.
One of us will serve as the next Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. We believe that it is time to develop our offshore energy resources to create new jobs and provide necessary new revenue for our Commonwealth. While your Department has preparatory work to do prior to the lease sale in 2011, the leasing process should not be further delayed. In this economy any further delay is unacceptable and irresponsible. We ask you to reject Governor Kaine’s request for such delay, and to approve the sale of leasing for oil and natural gas exploration and development off the coast of Virginia to begin in 2011.
Senator Creigh Deeds
Governor Timothy M. Kaine
United States Senator Mark Warner
United States Senator Jim Webb