McDonnell: Va. ‘eager to get started’ on offshore drilling

Gov.-elect writes letter to Secretary of Interior to push ’11 lease sale

Staff Report
McDonnell online:

Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell today released a letter that he sent last week to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar cautioning against any delay in a scheduled 2011 lease sale involving drilling interests off the Virginia coast.

The letter comes as published reports have Salazar considering a revision to federal policy regarding drilling dating back to the Bush administration. McDonnell made offshore drilling a key part of his 2009 gubernatorial campaign as a way of providing revenues for transportation-system improvements.

“More than fifteen months have passed since the United States Congress allowed the federal moratorium on exploration and development of oil and natural gas resources off the Atlantic Coast to expire, and President Bush repealed a similar executive order banning such action. This cleared the way for Virginia to be the first state on the Atlantic seaboard to explore and drill beginning in 2011. Virginia is eager to get started,” wrote McDonnell in the Dec. 23 letter.

The letter noted that the public-comment period on the lease sale ended more than a year ago. “Unfortunately it appears that virtually no progress has been made at the federal level to get this process rolling,” McDonnell wrote.

“I am requesting that Virginia remain in the current five-year plan and that the federal administrative process move forward with Lease Sale 220 immediately. Any effort to remove or delay Virginia’s participation in the lease sale would significantly hamper our efforts to create jobs, eliminate much-needed new revenue, and undermine support for President Obama’s stated commitment to make the United States more energy secure,” McDonnell wrote.

McDonnell pledged in the letter to make offshore-energy exploration and production – including drilling for oil and natural gas and the development of offshore wind farms – “a priority in my administration.”

“I would like to work with you and the president to make Virginia an international leader in offshore energy exploration and production on the Atlantic coast. It is important for both our Commonwealth and our country,” McDonnell wrote.


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