The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Tapping Virginia's Energy

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted September 1, 2009

In the heat of the gubernatorial campaign in Virginia, the Commonwealth's Speaker of the House is pushing the federal government to open the coastline to oil and natural gas development. Speaker William Howell has sent a letter to the Obama administration urging the leasing of 2.9 million acres of the Outer Continental Shelf along Virginia's coast by 2011.

Howell wrote, "Developing these resources would create thousands of new jobs in our commonwealth, arriving at the right time to assist in lifting our workers, families and communities out of this economic recession." The U.S. Interior Department estimates the area could contain 130 million barrels of oil and 1.14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. But these estimates are several years old, and it's believed Virginia's coastline could hold substantially larger energy resources.

Whether to open Virginia's coastline to drilling has become a key issue in the gubernatorial race. Republican nominee Bob McDonnell favors drilling; Democrat candidate Creigh Deeds supports green technologies but is open to drilling for natural gas as long as it doesn't harm tourism, the environment and the fishing industry.

The federal government is accepting comments on its offshore drilling plan until late September. If you support policies that favor accessing more of America's own domestic energy resources, visit the Action Center and send a message to policymakers and the Minerals Management Service.