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Posted at 11:10 AM ET, 12/10/2010

Wind: A better deal than offshore natural gas

By Nathan Lott, Richmond

The Dec. 6 editorial on offshore drilling, "On second thought," suggested that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar failed to "explain the reversal for the Atlantic Coast," where "Democratic and Republican governors of Virginia have expressed support for careful exploration." If Mr. Salazar's Dec. 1 announcement failed to make the case against Atlantic offshore leasing, that doesn't mean there is no case to be made.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement estimates 130 million barrels of oil could be recovered off Virginia's coast - only enough to power Americans' cars for six days. The natural gas off our coast would last 12 days longer, but at current prices it might not yield a profit.

Topping the list of opponents is the Defense Department; the Navy says offshore wells would hamper training and impede readiness. Virginia Beach hoteliers worry that a spill would threaten our state's $19-billion-per-year tourism industry, and the fishing sector voices similar concerns. Neighbors in Maryland and North Carolina rightfully object to having their communities put at risk.

By contrast, last week 40 organizations in 13 Atlantic states issued a report on offshore wind. Using current technology, offshore wind can provide as much as 212 gigawatts of electricity to Atlantic states annually, enabling our transition to electric cars and off foreign oil. On this front, the Obama administration is making progress, and Congress should ensure funding for the necessary research.

The writer is executive director of the Virginia Conservation Network.

By Nathan Lott, Richmond  | December 10, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  Chesapeake Bay, HotTopic, Va. Politics, Virginia, development, economy, energy, environment, transportation, wildlife  
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