McDonnell concerned about a new possible delay in offshore oil drilling
Gov. Bob McDonnell told reporters today that he immediately called U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's office after news broke late yesterday about the federal government's plan to postpone oil and gas drilling off Virginia's coast.
But, McDonnell said, his office has not been able to confirm the delay despite news reports that say the earliest the area would be leased is in 2012.
"Any delay beyond 2011 I would strongly oppose,'' McDonnell said. "A delay of a year in the lease means yet another delay in the revenue...I am dead serious about trying to make Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast. We have every God-given natural resource that a state could want to make that happen and a big piece of that goal of energy independence is offshore production of oil, gas and wind and we don't need federal government delays. We need cooperation."
McDonnell wants to use some of the royalties from offshore drilling to pay for roads and transit.
McDonnell sent a letter to Salazar last month asking him to allow for the exploration of oil and gas off Virginia's coast.
In the letter dated Dec. 23, McDonnell urged him to avoid any further delay in the lease, now scheduled for 2011. He did not receive a response.
McDonnell's letter came months after former 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 25-year-old federal moratorium on energy exploration and development off the coast of Virginia expired 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 Salazar halted the process to review the plan and get input from the public.
January 27, 2010; 1:07 PM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell
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