Governor McDonnell Deeply Critical of Department of the Interior Decision to Exclude Virginia from Five to Year Offshore Oil Exploration Plan

Tagged in: Advocacy
Governor McDonnell Deeply Critical of Department of the Interior Decision to Exclude Virginia from Five to Year Offshore Oil Exploration Plan


Released November 8, 2011

Governor Bob McDonnell reacted sharply to the Obama Administration's release of the proposed Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Five-Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Development Plan, which failed to include oil and gas exploration leases off Virginia's Atlantic Coast. 

"Today's decision will prevent the creation of thousands of new jobs for our citizens. On a bipartisan basis, a majority of Virginia's elected officials in the General Assembly and Congress have repeatedly confirmed our support for the responsible development of offshore energy resources," said Governor McDonnell. "When initially approving the sale of Virginia offshore leases in March 2010, President Obama said he was expanding offshore oil drilling along the Atlantic coast because 'America must break its dependency on foreign oil and rely more on homegrown fuels and clean energy.' That was well said. Virginia is poised to become the 'Energy Capitol of the East Coast' by responsibly developing nuclear, natural gas, coal, biomass, wind, solar, and offshore oil and gas. There is a burgeoning energy exploration industry, hundreds of millions of dollars in new capital investment, and thousands of new jobs at stake if Virginia is not allowed to pursue its innovative and comprehensive energy strategy. 

"This is another glaring example of the abysmal failure of the Obama Administration to develop a comprehensive national energy policy. This failure is preventing our great nation from using all of its God-given natural resources and creating good jobs in the process; jobs our citizens desperately need and deserve. Now that Virginia has been left out of the plan, I urge Congress to quickly pass the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2011, introduced by Virginia Senators Warner and Webb, and HR 1230 'Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act' which has already passed the full House of Representatives, so Virginia can remain on track to create thousands of new energy jobs and help lead our country to more energy independence." 

The Department of the Interior approved Virginia's inclusion in Lease Sale 200 in March 2010, and then cancelled Virginia's planned sale of offshore oil and gas exploration leases following the Deepwater Horizon accident in April 2010. At that time, Governor McDonnell said steps should be taken to thoroughly investigate the accident and the change federal oversight and implement new technologies to assure drilling can be done safely. Since then, significant improvements have been made by both government and industry to address these problems, and new deepwater permits are being issued in the Gulf of Mexico where nearly 400 wells already exist. 

"Virginia has aggressively and responsibly pursued the development of its natural resources to benefit the Commonwealth and the nation" Governor McDonnell added. "This decision to exclude Virginia from the five-year offshore development plan will severely hinder Virginia's comprehensive strategy, will cost millions in potential investment, and will squander the opportunity to create thousands of jobs during a time when our economy needs our support. It also represents an embarrassing policy of quitting on an important industry and a lack of confidence in the federal government and the American entrepreneur to solve problems and drill safely." 

The OCS Lands Act requires that the Secretary of the Interior prepare a five-year program that includes a schedule of oil and gas lease sales indicating the size, timing, and location of proposed leasing activity that the secretary determines will best meet national energy needs for the five-year period following its approval.  

Today's announcement starts a 90-day comment period on proposed plan and draft environmental impact statement (EIS). BOEM can then make whatever changes and adjustments to the draft EIS before issuing the proposed program and Final EIS. Congress then will review the plan for 60 days.

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