House Speaker Pushes for Drilling
In certain districts in Southside, Southwest and along the I-81 corridor, Republicans are hoping the hot-button issue of offshore drilling may work to their advantage in the House of Delegates races.
So House Speaker Bill Howell (R) is trying to push the issue to the forefront by sending a letter this week to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking for the federal government to allow for the exploration of oil and gas off Virginia's coast.
His letter comes after Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) sent his own letter to Salazar earlier this year asking for a delay in drilling off the Virginia coast.
"The expedited lease of the 2.9 million acres 50 miles offshore of Virginia would significantly improve Virginia's - and America's - energy security as well as assist in meeting that growing demand,'' Howell wrote in his letter. "Developing these resources would create thousands of new jobs in our Commonwealth, arriving at the right time to assist in lifting our workers, families and communities out of this economic recession."
The 25-year-old federal moratorium on energy exploration and development off the coast of Virginia expired last year.
Late last year, the Minerals Management Service, part of the Interior Department, included Virginia in its five-year plan and began soliciting companies to drill off the coast in 2011. It is the only state on the East Coast included in the plan.
But early this year, Salazar halted the process to review the plan and get input from the public.
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