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Goodlatte Introduces Legislation to Open Virginia's OCS for Oil and Gas Exploration and Production

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC


Today Representative Bob Goodlatte introduced the "Virginia Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Act". This important legislation, H.R. 6781, allows Virginia's Governor to petition the Department of Interior for a targeted waiver from the current moratorium to explore for natural gas and crude oil in the waters of the Outer Continental Shelf. It has been estimated by the U.S. Department of Interior's Minerals Management Service that Virginia's OCS has 56 million barrels of recoverable oil and 327 billion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas.

"The Virginia OCS Act" allows Virginia to request oil and natural gas exploration activities off its coast. Should these exploration activities prove fruitful, then the legislation would allow Virginia to petition for drilling for these precious resources. This bill does not mandate that Virginia explore or drill off its coast. It simply removes the federal government's longstanding barriers to these activities. The final decision of whether to explore or drill is placed squarely where it should be - in the hands of the people of Virginia, through our state legislature and Governor.

"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. Unfortunately, a congressional moratorium on exploration of the OCS prevents the Commonwealth from having every tool available to address rising energy costs."

The Virginia General Assembly already has passed legislation in favor of exploring energy production in these waters.

"The Virginia OCS Act" states that all revenue generated from extraction of these resources are shared evenly with the state and federal government, with the federal share going to the Clean Energy Fund. Seventy-five percent of the Commonwealth's share will be used to fund various state projects including education, transportation, tax reductions, coastal and environmental restoration, energy infrastructure and projects, alternative energy development, and energy efficiency and conservation. The other twenty-five percent would be split 12.5 percent to provide assistance to Virginia through the Land and Water Conservation fund and 12.5 percent to a reserve fund to address other environmental issues.

Representatives Rob Wittman (VA-1), Thelma Drake (VA-2), Randy Forbes (VA-4), Virgil Goode (VA-5), Eric Cantor (VA-6), Frank Wolf (VA-10), and Tom Davis (VA-11) joined me and are original cosponsors of my legislation, which has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources for further consideration.

Goodlatte continued, "While the Majority in Congress has succeeded in strangling any efforts to tap into traditional energy resources in America, our nation's citizens have suffered. They have suffered with skyrocketing gas and food prices, and they have suffered from the fear that we are ever dependent on foreign, and sometimes hostile nations for our oil supply. While Congress can't seem to get its act together to solve this problem for the nation, as a representative of the people of Virginia, I cannot stand by and simply watch this spectacle. The time for action is now."

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.

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