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Virginia Republicans Call on Salazar to Allow Virginia Oil and Gas Lease to Move Forward

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC


Today the Republican Members of the Virginia Delegation, led by Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (VA-06) and Eric Cantor (VA-07), sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, encouraging the Interior Department to proceed with the oil and gas lease sale that would allow energy exploration and development to take place at least 50 miles from Virginia's shoreline. In addition to Congressmen Goodlatte and Cantor, the letter was signed by Congressmen Frank Wolf (VA-10), Randy Forbes (VA-04) and Rob Wittman (VA-01).

At the request of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) included Virginia in the current five year Oil and Gas Leasing Program for the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The MMS has initiated the process of creating a new five year plan and the Republican Members of the Virginia Delegation urged the federal government to ensure that Virginia is included in this next plan.

According to a 2005 study by Old Dominion University, during a 10 year period, offshore natural gas development alone would induce capital investment of $7.84 billion, yield $644 million in direct and indirect payroll, and result in $271 million in state and local taxes. These are very conservative estimates and actual amounts could be greater and provide an even larger capital infusion to the Commonwealth.

"Our inability to set a national energy policy is affecting all Americans and sucking the lifeblood out of our economy," said Goodlatte. "It is a major long term contributor to the economic instability we are currently experiencing. Accessing the resources on our Outer Continental Shelf is one important component to any long-term strategy to reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and Virginia can make a contribution. It is critical that the Commonwealth of Virginia be allowed to move forward with energy exploration on our coast. Not only will it help to create jobs and grow our economy here in Virginia but it will benefit our national economy as well."

"Deep sea energy exploration is a common-sense policy that will help put Virginia, and the nation, on track to achieving energy independence. This important step could result in additional revenue for the Commonwealth, a portion of which could be used to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and other coastal waterways, as well as build the bridge to a time when space-age technology powers us all. The key to achieving energy independence is to develop multi-faceted solutions that focus on conservation, innovative new technologies and domestic exploration. I strongly encourage Secretary Salazar to continue forward with Lease Sale 220 so that Virginia may play a role in American energy independence," said Rep. Eric Cantor.

"Exploring Virginia's offshore energy resources is one part of a comprehensive plan we need to address rising energy demands in the U.S," said Frank Wolf.

"The likelihood of gas prices skyrocketing again in the coming months will create even greater financial distress for American families" said Rep. Randy Forbes. "We cannot wait until we are in a crisis to take significant steps towards solving our energy challenges. We must move towards a comprehensive energy solution that includes conserving, tapping into alternative energy sources, and exploring new sources of oil. Further delaying OCS lease sales in Virginia will only set us back in our comprehensive energy efforts, and I encourage Secretary Salazar to deny any request to delay the lease sales."

"We need an "all of the above" energy policy in the U.S.; which means Washington should encourage all types of energy development including environmentally responsible oil and natural gas production. During these difficult economic times, offshore energy development would create thousands of high paying jobs and millions of dollars in revenues for the Commonwealth," said Rep. Rob Wittman.

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