Posted April 28, 2014
Virginia is for lovers – of domestic oil and natural gas production and investments in energy infrastructure. That’s what you see in a recent Harris Poll of registered voters in the commonwealth: Strong support for developing domestic oil and natural gas, including offshore reserves, as well as increased spending on infrastructure.
Some of the numbers:
- 80 percent support increased production of domestic oil and natural gas reserves. Just 11 percent oppose.
- 89 percent support increased development of U.S. energy infrastructure.
- 94 percent agree increased domestic oil and natural gas output could help strengthen America’s energy security.
- 91 percent agree increased domestic oil and natural gas production could help stimulate the economy.
And so it goes – with similar, slam-dunk margins on other questions, from benefits to U.S. consumers to economic growth.
Two key findings: Virginians support energy development in waters off the state’s coast by a 70-21 margin, and by an 86-9 margin they agree that producing more domestic oil and natural gas could benefit federal and state budgets through lease payments, royalty fees and other sources of revenue.
This is important as federal officials consider drilling on the Atlantic outer continental shelf. Virginians see safe and responsible development as good for jobs, good for the state’s economy. Analysis backs up that belief. A Quest Offshore Resources report projects that Virginia employment from offshore oil and natural gas development would support nearly 25,000 jobs in 2035 while contributing nearly $2.2 billion to the state economy by that same year.
In addition, if a Gulf of Mexico state/federal revenue sharing arrangement is enacted for Atlantic coastal states, Virginia could see revenues from bonuses, rents and royalties reach $400 million per year by 2035, the study estimates. The cumulative revenue generated for the state’s budget from 2017-2035 is projected to be nearly $1.9 billion.
While Virginia is not currently a producing state, the oil and natural gas industry is contributing to state employment and its economy. A PwC study found that industry operations support 141,600 jobs or 3 percent of total employment in the commonwealth. This activity generates $7.2 billion in labor income – wages, salaries and benefits, as well as proprietors’ income from jobs directly or indirectly supported by industry through operational spending, dividend payments and capital investments. It also means $12.4 billion in value added – additional value created at a particular stage of production, including employee compensation, proprietors’ income, income to capital owners from property and indirect business taxes that are borne by consumers rather than producers.
Mike Ward, executive director of the Virginia Petroleum Council, talking about support for energy development in the state, reflected in the Harris Poll survey:
"Today’s poll shows strong majorities of Virginia voters support more domestic oil and natural gas development, regardless of party affiliation. Seventy percent of Virginia voters support offshore drilling for domestic oil and natural gas resources. These numbers reflect the strong bipartisan support of our governor, members of Congress and other state leaders for bringing offshore energy development to Virginia. Forward-looking policies that allow the United States to capitalize on its bright energy future are imperative for this nation to realize its job creation and economic potential. … The people of Virginia get it; America’s economic future, the availability of affordable and reliable energy, depends on the policies created today.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.