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Weekly Column: Accessing Energy and Creating Jobs for Virginians

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Each week, folks across Virginia and the nation are confronted with the rising cost of energy, from the price at the pump to soaring electric bills. However, Virginians understand that a major component in lessening energy costs is to produce more energy.

I believe that Virginia should have every tool available to access their energy supplies. For many years, the Commonwealth has been seriously considering the potential positive impact that Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) development off Virginia's coast would have on our state. In fact, there has been wide support for energy production by the Governor of Virginia, the Virginia General Assembly and by many local governments in the Commonwealth.

For this reason, I recently introduced legislation, with the support of six other Members of Congress from Virginia, that requires the Department of Interior to proceed with the Virginia lease sale no later than one year after passage of this legislation. It has been estimated by the U.S. Department of Interior that Virginia's OCS has 130 million barrels of recoverable oil and 1.14 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. These are old estimates and many believe that new exploration will discover much larger quantities. My legislation, the "Virginia Access to Energy Act' will remove any regulatory hurdles that may impede development and create an environmentally responsible path for Virginia to become "the Energy Capital of the East Coast.'

In addition to setting Virginia on the path to energy independence, passage of my legislation and development of VA's OCS will significantly boost 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.

While exploration activities alone will infuse the Virginia economy with a significant amount of new capital, this legislation will also authorize any qualified revenues generated by the lease sales to be shared between the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia for such things as federal debt reduction, and various state projects including education, transportation, tax reductions, coastal and environmental restoration, energy infrastructure and projects, alternative energy development, and energy efficiency and conservation.

Virginians understand that a major component in lessening energy costs is to produce more energy. My legislation, the Virginia Access to Energy Act, is an important component to any long-term strategy to reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil. Most importantly the legislation ensures that Virginia has every tool available to access its energy supplies, while at the same time creating thousands of jobs for Virginians and infusing the Commonwealth with new capital growth.


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