Today Representatives Bob Goodlatte reintroduced the "Virginia Access to Energy Act". This important legislation allows for the exploration of natural gas and crude oil in Virginia's waters of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The legislation requires the Department of Interior to proceed with the Virginia lease sale no later than one year after passage of this legislation.
For many years the Commonwealth of Virginia has seriously been considering the potential positive impact that OCS development off Virginia's coast would have on the Commonwealth. In fact, there has been wide support for environmentally responsible energy production by the Governor of Virginia, the Virginia General Assembly and by many local governments in the Commonwealth.
"Every day, folks across Virginia and the nation are confronted with the rising cost of energy, from the cost at the pump to soaring electric bills," said Congressman Goodlatte. "I believe that Virginia should have every tool available to access its energy supplies. The "Virginia Access to Energy Act' will create a path for Virginia to become "the Energy Capital of the East Coast.'"
It has been estimated by the U.S. Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service that Virginia's OCS has 130 million barrels of recoverable oil and 1.14 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. This translates into a significant boost to the economy of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In fact, some estimates have shown that development of Virginia's OCS will create over 2,500 full-time equivalent positions on an annual basis, induce capital investment of $7.8 billion, yield nearly $645 million in direct and indirect payroll, and result in over $270 million in state and local taxes.
"There is a clear link between our willingness to tap American energy resources with job creation and national security," said Congressman Scott Rigell, a lead cosponsor of the Virginia Access to Energy Act. "It is essential that we move forward with a comprehensive strategy that provides energy independence and I commend Congressman Goodlatte for introducing this legislation."
The "Virginia Access to Energy Act" authorizes that all revenue generated from extraction of these resources may be shared evenly with the state and federal government, with the federal share going to reduce to the national debt. The Commonwealth's share will be used to fund various state projects at the discretion of the state government.
Representatives Rob Wittman (VA-1), Scott Rigell (VA-2), Randy Forbes (VA-4), Robert Hurt (VA-5), Morgan Griffith (VA-9), and Frank Wolf (VA-10) joined Rep. Goodlatte as original cosponsors of the legislation, which has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources for further consideration.
Goodlatte continued, "Virginians understand that a major component in lessening energy costs is to produce more energy. In addition to helping us become energy independent, this legislation will help create thousands of jobs for Virginians and infuse the Commonwealth with new capital growth."
To move America toward energy independence we need a comprehensive and strategic plan that increases the supply, security and diversity of American energy, promotes conservation and puts real alternative fuel sources in the hands of consumers to lower costs. We must lift the moratorium on drilling along the Outer Continental Shelf and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, potentially producing nearly a million barrels of oil a day. We must diversify our energy supplies with alternative sources, including renewable fuels and wind, solar and hydrogen power. But we must do so without the government mandates and subsidies that are today driving up the cost of food and animal feed due to producing ethanol from corn. We should develop a renewable policy where the government incentivizes the development of new technologies but does not mandate the use of any particular fuel like corn-based ethanol which drives up food costs for consumers. Finally we should encourage the production of more nuclear power which provides CO2 emission-free energy.