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Updated: Moran pens letter on offshore drilling royalties to 'Governor McDonald'

Anita Kumar

U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D) sent Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) a letter warning him not to expect too much from a bill that passed the General Assembly that directs 70 percent of any future drilling royalties to state road improvements.

The only problem is Moran spelled the governor's name wrong in the letter dated March 5: Twice. McDonald instead of McDonnell. Oops.

Moran, who represents traffic-clogged Northern Virginia, argues that drilling will not occur for at least eight years and any royalties that come from offshore gas or oil must go to the federal government, not Virginia.

"I would strongly advise against any assumption that oil and gas royalties will be flowing into the state's treasury,'' he writes.

Virginia is currently in line to be the first Atlantic Coast state to drill off its shore, though it will probably take years to start even if the state receives necessary approval from the Obama administration.

Congress would still need to pass a bill to allow Virginia to receive any royalties from oil or gas drilling off its shore -- as it did in 2006 when it allowed Gulf Coast states to begin taking home 37.5 percent of revenue.

Moran said Congress has rejected repeatedly attempts for Atlantic Coast states to receives royalties.

"I also believe the assumptions about what the oil and gas might generate through economic activity are grossly overstates and may come at the expense of the fishing, recreational and tourism industries whose livelihoods could be jeopardized,'' he wrote.

McDonnell recently met with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to urge him allow drilling for oil and natural gas off the coast of Virginia.

U.S. Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner, both Democrats, and Republican members of the Virginia's U.S. House delegation have also written letters in support. But Moran and some of the other Democratic members of the Virginia delegation are opposed.

"Perhaps even more significant, the military's investment in Virginia, which is so critically important to the Commonwealth's economy, could be jeopardized by offshore drilling,'' he wrote in his letter.

McDonnell signed the bill into law yesterday and will speak about the merits about offshire drilling at a Governor's Energy Summit this afternoon in downtown Richmond.

Update: McDonnell's office responds: "Congressman Moran is on the opposite side of the Governor, the Republican House of Delegates, the Democratic State Senate, Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb, the City Council of Virginia Beach, and the citizens of Virginia. The President has also spoken of the need to develop more of our domestic energy resources. When Virginia becomes the first state on the East Coast to explore for and produce energy offshore, it will mean thousands of new jobs and billions in economic impact. We hope Congressman Moran will join leaders from both parties in supporting this opportunity for Virginia's future."

By Anita Kumar  |  March 11, 2010; 8:27 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , James P. Moran Jr. , James Webb , Mark Warner , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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As in "Ronald"? Because Taliban Bob is making me laugh with his clownish back-tracking. And Ol' Jimbo better hope the Guv's office doesn't misspell HIS surname, 'cause that might be more embarassing.

Posted by: BigDaddyD | March 11, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Jim Moran -- poster child for all that is wrong with drinking and writing...

Posted by: JTR555 | March 11, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Jim Moran: a Moron

Posted by: jrhoeft | March 11, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Moran is correct - to think drilling in a small area such as VA's coastal waters will generate thousands of jobs or billions of dollars is at best folly and at worst delusional. And with no infrastructure in place it will be 20 years before any production wells are up. The governor is way off base, and Moran is right.

Posted by: buckworthy | March 11, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

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