Congressman Scott Rigell (VA-02) briefed business leaders on the topic of coastal energy at a luncheon hosted by the Hampton Roads Chamber and the Port of Virginia on August 20 at the World Trade Center in Norfolk. Congressman Rigell met with more than 50 business leaders to discuss the impact that coastal energy could have on our economy, education system, public infrastructure and national security.
The Port, tourism and the military are our region’s three economic pillar. Congressman Rigell believes that coastal energy could be the fourth pillar that Hampton Roads needs to diversify its economy. He explained that we must take a bold step.
Rigell discussed his recent visit to Port Fourchon in Louisiana. He said, “It was a bipartisan delegation that went and we saw the potential that is there. They were at the epicenter of the Gulf accident. They are so proud of what they’ve accomplished. They have a vibrant business community.” Port Fourchon was developed as a multi-use facility. It has historically been a land base for offshore oil support services as well as a land base for the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP). In addition, Port Fourchon has served as a commercial and recreational fishing mecca, foreign cargo shipping terminal, and a unique area for recreation and tourism.
Rigell told those in attendance that coastal energy could bring 25,000 jobs to our region. “This is a substantive addition to our local economy,” he said. Rigell believes that we need alignment around this idea. This would include support from the business community, educational institutions, local, state and federal elected officials. Congressman Rigell said, “We also have an obligation for those transitioning out of the service and our children, to give them opportunities. We all want them to have great schools and make a good living in Hampton Roads.”
“I’m really proud of Governor McAuliffe, Senator Kaine and Senator Warner,” he exclaimed. Rigell added, “They are my friends. They have been vocal on this and it hasn’t been easy. I’m a Republican. It’s a little easier for me to be for energy.” He cited an editorial recently written by the local delegation that was printed in The Virginian-Pilot on August 1. Read Column in The Virginian-Pilot by Senators Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, and Representatives Scott Rigell, Randy Forbes and Rob Wittman.
J.J. Keever of Keever Consulting was among the attendees and said, “Congressman Rigell's comments today regarding coastal energy and offshore drilling can add an entirely new dynamic to Virginia's economy, by helping to create new jobs and add to the tax base of the Commonwealth. Additionally, our reliability on foreign energy could be greatly reduced and help increase our energy independence using the resources of our nation. For these reasons, I support the need to align the business community along with our local, state and federal leaders to make this happen off the coast of Virginia.” Keever added, “There needs to be a cooperative effort from our region, spearheaded by the business community, to push our elected officials and the federal agencies to move forward to open these energy resources off the coast of Virginia to help provide for our energy independence and to help stimulate the creation of jobs, economic development and diversifying our economy, all of which can be accomplished in a manner as not to impede our existing major economic drivers: the military, the port and tourism.”
Charles de Cuir, 2014-2015 Chairman of the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition, said, “I am a native of New Orleans and grew up in shipbuilding and repair, rig building and repair, energy services operation. I am very keen on the dynamics and metrics that make the industry a jobs producer and creates economic growth for a region. Offshore Wind as a starter needs to be viewed as the ‘Future Growth Engine’ for the Hampton Roads community as well as salvaging jobs that would be otherwise lost due to government cut backs, in particular military spending. Many alignment projects have been going on behind the scenes. Our big push is the development and coordination of the ‘Supply Chain Hub.’ This need to be Hampton Roads and there is no reason it can't or won't be as long as we lead the discussion. So the take away here is the advancement of "alignment" will establish Hampton Roads as the supply chain hub for Atlantic Coastal and Offshore Energy Industry.”
Rigell explained there is a bottleneck on this issue with the Department of Interior. “It’s a slow process to move this forward,” Rigell said. He urged attendees to communicate with their elected officials in support of this issue and asked the Chamber for its support.