In a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, last week Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb renewed their push for ending the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling off the coast of Virginia.
After initially including Virginia in the Interior Department’s 2012-2017 offshore oil and gas leasing program, in late 2011 the Obama Administration reversed course and imposed a 7-year moratorium on Atlantic coast drilling.
Beyond the potential to create thousands of jobs and produce a large amount of domestic energy, Warner and Webb also emphasized the significant royalties the federal and state governments stand to gain. These royalties could serve as a “future source of funding for important state priorities such as transportation, land and water conservation and alternative energy development,” they said.
While the Senators’ letter will put a spotlight on Virginia’s offshore resources, it is unlikely to persuade the Obama administration to change course again. Interior’s 5-year plan is due to be finalized this summer, and the administration appears to be sticking to its guns.