Today Representative Bob Goodlatte applauded the House passage of a comprehensive energy bill which included provisions from Rep. Goodlatte's legislation allowing for the exploration of natural gas and crude oil in Virginia's waters of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
The Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy, and Resource Security Act, known as the PIONEERS Act, passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 237-187 and is a common sense jobs plan that would permanently remove government barriers to American energy production by allowing for the offshore exploration of oil and gas, the development of U.S. oil shale resources, and opening a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to responsible energy development.
Specifically, the PIONEERS Act requires the Secretary of the Interior to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska and Virginia that have been delayed or cancelled by the Obama Administration. The legislation requires lease sale #220 off the coast of Virginia to occur within one year after enactment of the bill.
"I am pleased that the PIONEERS Act included language requiring the Obama Administration to move forward with oil and gas exploration off the coast of Virginia," said. Rep. Goodlatte. Every day, folks across the Commonwealth and the nation are confronted with the rising cost of energy, from the cost at the pump to soaring electric bills. I believe that Virginia should have every tool available to access its energy supplies which will help lower energy costs for all our citizens by putting America on a path to energy independence."
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 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.
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.
Goodlatte continued, "Virginians understand that a major component in lowering 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."
Congressman Goodlatte has long supported opening Virginia's OCS for oil and gas exploration. Most recently he, along with a majority of the Members from Virginia, introduced the "Virginia Access to Energy Act" which would require the Department of Interior to proceed with the Virginia lease sale no later than one year after passage of the Act.