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Offshore Exploration Gives Virginia Another Chance

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Virginia’s opportunity to greatly benefit from offshore natural gas and oil development had life breathed back into it by President Trump’s decision to pursue these valuable resources off our Atlantic coast.

First, we need to find out what amounts of natural gas and oil is on the Outer Continental Shelf – at 50 miles off the shores. And once we know what is there, then we can determine how best to capture it.  And today’s technologies are so much than just a few years ago, the economic benefits to our country and to countries all over the world far exceeds the small environmental impact that will occur.

Inexpensive energy supplies have been a major factor in America’s economic success.  Vast natural gas resources have lowered our energy costs and substantially reduced air pollution over the past several years.

By properly aligning federal energy policies with our historic market-oriented philosophy of commerce, the United States has the opportunity to cement our status as the richest and most powerful country in the world.  This comes after years of public policies that limited domestic energy development and required us to get involved in messy situations around the world just to maintain access to oil and natural gas.  And now we are on the verge to offer Eastern Europe much of its energy supplies so that these emerging democracies aren’t held hostage by their previous masters in Moscow.  The world will be safer thanks to energy development here in the U.S.

A decision to expand opportunities for domestic offshore energy development, should the exploration show that these resources abound off our coast, could be a significant economic boon for Virginia.  In 2014, following a suggestion by the Thomas Jefferson Institute, a major study was released that examined how states in the mid and south Atlantic region might benefit from oceanic energy development.  The Jefferson Institute carved out the Virginia piece of this study and released the Virginia specifics to the public.  Among the conclusions was that Virginia alone could see 32,000 new jobs created and up to $645 million a year in lease and royalty payments and new state and local taxes.  These new tax revenues could be used to improve transportation networks, fund our schools, and enhance the economic potential of our coastal region.

And Virginia, with the deepest sea port on the Atlantic, could become the “Energy Capital of the East Coast.”  In addition to being home to offshore industry suppliers and their supporting infrastructure, our strategically-located deep water port with the largest dry docks in the country, provides a ready-made mechanism to bring natural gas and oil ashore for processing and transporting to markets throughout our country and even to our allies overseas.

Allowing new seismic surveys in the Atlantic is a common-sense step that will improve our understanding of what’s out there and ensure more informed decisions given that the last surveys were taken decades ago without the benefit of modern technology. Including the Mid-Atlantic in the new offshore energy leasing program is the right thing to do and is the kind of action needed to help secure a brighter economic future for our children and grandchildren.  In addition, just imagine if our future Middle East policy could be determined without the current weight of the energy piece to our foreign policy equation.

Let’s move forward with the can-do spirit that has personified the Commonwealth and this nation since its founding.  Let’s protect our current and future generations by expanding opportunities for offshore energy development in the Mid-Atlantic, which will benefit individuals and businesses here in Virginia and all across America.  We can do this using new technologies for finding what amounts of natural gas and oil and sitting off our coast to develop.  And there are now newly developed machines that can quickly cap any “blow out” similar to what we witnessed in the Gulf a few years ago.  Those will hopefully be strategically stationed along the coast should we be fortunate enough to successfully drill a minimum of 50 miles out to sea.  We won’t be able to see the platforms.  Gas and oil will flow into our country, refined and consumed here and shipped overseas.

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