Gov. Bob McDonnell lauded bipartisan passage Wednesday of a U.S. House of Representatives plan to expand off-shore oil and natural gas drilling include Virginia's coast.
The House rejected a plan put forward by President Barack Obama that forbid drilling off the coast of Virginia and replaced it with a five-year plan, on a vote of 253-170, that allows for lease sales in "Virginia's waters."
The Obama plan had a 5-year moratorium, which would be in effect until 2017, on drilling off Virginia's shores.
“America is in need of a comprehensive, all-of-the-above energy strategy that will secure our energy future and grow domestic energy production," McDonnell said in a press release. "I applaud the United States House of Representatives for supporting, in a bipartisan manner, legislation which will open up Virginia’s waters to offshore drilling."
The governor also commended Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb for sponsoring a similar measure in the Senate and urged Congress's upper chamber to follow the House's lead.
"I also applaud the United States Senate on introducing, with bipartisan support, the Offshore Petroleum Expansion Now Act of 2012 (OPEN Act)," McDonnell said. "For too long, President Obama has said no to expanding offshore drilling, a vital energy source that will create jobs and help drive energy costs down nationwide.
"That is why I am pleased that the House of Representatives today passed H.R. 6082, which replaces the proposed five-year plan with one that includes a sale off Virginia’s outer continental shelf. I encourage the Senate to pass the OPEN Act, which provides a common-sense alternative to the president’s proposed 2012-2017 offshore plan and includes Virginia’s proposed sale. Additionally, I thank Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb for their leadership on this issue. These actions show that Congress is united in a bipartisan manner to reject and replace the President’s plan with one that creates thousands of new jobs and makes America more energy secure, and includes lease sale 220 off the coast of Virginia.”
Webb and Warner have frequently urged the Obama administration to allow for off-shore drilling in Virginia and issued a press release on the OPEN Act.
“I have long advocated opening up more of the nation’s outer continental shelf resources to responsible natural gas and oil exploration,” Webb said. “Energy exploration and subsequent production within the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf — if coupled with environmental protections and an equitable formula for sharing revenues between the state and federal governments — would boost domestic energy supplies, while benefiting the Commonwealth’s economy.”
“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," Warner added. “I believe that Virginians should benefit from any energy resources that are developed off of our coast, and this legislation requires the federal government to make reasonable royalty payments to the Commonwealth.”