Sierra Club: McDonnell misses ‘big picture’ on drilling

Staff Report
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The Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club today issued its response to Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell’s recent letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar regarding Virginia offshore drilling and lease sale.

“In his rush to accelerate Virginia offshore drilling, Mr. McDonnell is not considering the big picture,” said Glen Besa, director of the Virginia Chapter Sierra Club.

McDonnell continues to base his economic argument for drilling on a 2005 analysis done by former Old Dominion University president Dr. James V. Koch. In several recent statements to the press, Dr. Koch has revealed the deep inadequacies of his analysis.

“I did not have time to parse Virginia’s situation in detail. I examined the experiences of Louisiana and a Canadian province and extrapolated” said Dr. Koch to the Wall Street Journal. The figures “were very rough estimates” and “the topic would benefit from a detailed, thorough study” to include environmental costs.

“McDonnell’s economic arguments not only rely on this so-called ‘study’ but also unrealistically assume that revenue sharing would be extended to Virginia”, said Besa. “The feds are very unlikely to share $653-$790 billion in future revenue that constitutes the third largest source of Federal revenue benefitting all 50 states.”

“We would be pleased to work with Mr. McDonnell to bring offshore wind to Virginia that would be a major stimulus for new jobs, but if he wants to drill for oil and gas, we will oppose him,” added Besa.

The Sierra Club letter to Interior Secretary Salazar also points out Mr. McDonnell’s disregard for thorough and exhaustive study of the environmental impacts of offshore drilling on the Commonwealth.

“A recent D.C. Court of Appeals decision vacating the 2007-2012 drilling program was based on a failure to adequately assess the environmental sensitivity of our offshore areas”, continued Besa. “Thus in his quest to keep Virginia enrolled in this flawed Bush-era program, Mr. McDonnell further reveals his true agenda of playing partisan politics and political posturing, choosing terribly flawed economic arguments over sound environmental study.”



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