Offshore Access Update: Statewide Officials Decry Lack of Access to Atlantic Offshore Oil & Gas

November 8, 2011

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In response to US. Secretary of Interior Salazar’s release of the 2012-2017 Outer Continental Shelf Five Year Plan, U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA), and former Governors George Allen (R – VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) released statements today in support of offshore access and critical of the decision by the federal government to ignore the issue of Atlantic access to oil and natural gas exploration.

The 2012-2017 Five Year Plan lays out a number of locations in the United States to explore for oil & gas. However, despite previous support for a Virginia lease sale (Virginia 220 Lease Sale) in the 2007-2012 Five Year Plan, the current planning does not include Virginia.

President Obama and Secretary Salazar had announced support for moving forward with a lease sale off the coast of Virginia in March 2010. However, in the wake of the Macando incident in the Gulf of Mexico, the President cancelled the Virginia 220 Lease Sale in May 2010. The Administration indicated subsequently they would opt to ignore possible Atlantic resources until sometime after 2017.

The Virginia Outer Continental Shelf  Energy Production Act of 2011, introduced by Senators Webb and Warner, is currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate to help address this issue. Their legislation would force consideration of a Virginia lease sale in the 2012-2017 Five Year Plan, establish a revenue sharing program for the states and significantly expand the areas in the Atlantic for exploration.

Significant legislation by U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings (HR 1230) passed the U.S. House and mandates that a lease sale take place. However, it has failed to advance in the Senate largely due to the lack of a revenue sharing plan.

Below are statements of U.S. Senators Webb, Warner, and Governor Bob McDonnell in their entirety, as well as a copy of the release from the Office of the Secretary of the Interior.

Governor McDonnell Deeply Critical of Department of the Interior Decision to Exclude Virginia from Five-Year Offshore Oil Exploration Plan
~ Short-Sighted Decision Hinders Energy Security and Costs Opportunity to Add Needed Jobs and Development~

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell reacted sharply to the Obama Administration’s release today of the proposed Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Five-Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Development Plan, which failed to include oil and gas exploration leases off Virginia’s Atlantic Coast.

“Today’s decision will prevent the creation of thousands of new jobs for our citizens. On a bipartisan basis, a majority of Virginia’s elected officials in the General Assembly and Congress have repeatedly confirmed our support for the responsible development of offshore energy resources,” said Governor McDonnell. “When initially approving the sale of Virginia offshore leases in March 2010, President Obama said he was expanding offshore oil drilling along the Atlantic coast because ‘America must break its dependency on foreign oil and rely more on homegrown fuels and clean energy.’ That was well said. Virginia is poised to become the ‘Energy Capitol of the East Coast’ by responsibly developing nuclear, natural gas, coal, biomass, wind, solar, and offshore oil and gas. There is a burgeoning energy exploration industry, hundreds of millions of dollars in new capital investment, and thousands of new jobs at stake if Virginia is not allowed to pursue its innovative and comprehensive energy strategy.

“This is another glaring example of the abysmal failure of the Obama Administration to develop a comprehensive national energy policy. This failure is preventing our great nation from using all of its God-given natural resources and creating good jobs in the process; jobs our citizens desperately need and deserve. Now that Virginia has been left out of the plan, I urge Congress to quickly pass the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2011, introduced by Virginia Senators Warner and Webb, and HR 1230 ‘Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act’ which has already passed the full House of Representatives, so Virginia can remain on track to create thousands of new energy jobs and help lead our country to more energy independence.”

The Department of the Interior approved Virginia’s inclusion in Lease Sale 200 in March 2010, and then cancelled Virginia’s planned sale of offshore oil and gas exploration leases following the Deepwater Horizon accident in April 2010. At that time, Governor McDonnell said steps should be taken to thoroughly investigate the accident and the change federal oversight and implement new technologies to assure drilling can be done safely. Since then, significant improvements have been made by both government and industry to address these problems, and new deepwater permits are being issued in the Gulf of Mexico where nearly 400 wells already exist.

“Virginia has aggressively and responsibly pursued the development of its natural resources to benefit the Commonwealth and the nation” Governor McDonnell added. “This decision to exclude Virginia from the five-year offshore development plan will severely hinder Virginia’s comprehensive strategy, will cost millions in potential investment, and will squander the opportunity to create thousands of jobs during a time when our economy needs our support. It also represents an embarrassing policy of quitting on an important industry and a lack of confidence in the federal government and the American entrepreneur to solve problems and drill safely.”

The OCS Lands Act requires that the Secretary of the Interior prepare a five-year program that includes a schedule of oil and gas lease sales indicating the size, timing, and location of proposed leasing activity that the secretary determines will best meet national energy needs for the five-year period following its approval.
Today’s announcement starts a 90-day comment period on proposed plan and draft environmental impact statement (EIS). BOEM can then make whatever changes and adjustments to the draft EIS before issuing the proposed program and Final EIS. Congress then will review the plan for 60 days.



Senator Webb Statement on Virginia’s Exclusion from Offshore Drilling Plan

November 8, 2011

Washington, D.C. – Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) today released the following statement regarding the five-year oil and gas leasing plan announced by the Obama Administration, which omits Virginia.

“I am hopeful that the Administration will reconsider the inclusion of Virginia in its five-year lease plan,” said Senator Webb. “Oil and gas exploration within the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf — if coupled with an equitable formula for sharing revenues between the state and federal governments — would boost domestic energy production, while benefiting the Commonwealth’s economy.

“As we work to address our energy future here in Congress, it is important to note the Administration’s existing authority to include Virginia in the current five-year lease plan, and I once again urge the President to exercise that authority.”

Senator Webb has repeatedly urged the Obama Administration to keep Virginia’s Outer Continental lease sale on schedule. In July, Senator Webb and Senator Mark Warner introduced the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2011, which included revenue-sharing provisions and would expand the federal government’s map of the mid-Atlantic exploration area to more accurately reflect the extent of Virginia’s coastal resources. In 2008, Senator Webb cosponsored similar legislation with Republican Senator John Warner.

Senator Webb has consistently called for a holistic approach to addressing our nation’s energy needs that includes energy conservation and energy efficiency, as well as new energy production.



Senator Mark Warner Statement on Interior Dept.’s Offshore Leasing Proposal
Contact: Kevin Hall – (202) 224-2023

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement regarding the five-year oil and gas leasing plan announced by the U.S. Department of the Interior today, which does not include Virginia.

“This is disappointing, because the safe, responsible development of offshore energy resources has broad support from Virginians and among the bipartisan elected leadership of the state.

“I will be strongly urging the Administration to take another look at including Virginia in its five-year plan. Senator Webb and I will continue to pursue our legislation that updates the current map of the Outer Continental Shelf to better reflect Virginia’s share of offshore energy resources. Importantly, our legislation also would allow for revenue sharing between the state and federal governments.

“While offshore energy production will not solve all of our nation’s energy challenges, it certainly needs to be part of a portfolio approach that includes energy conservation and the further development of clean, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biofuels.”



Secretary Salazar Announces 2012-2017
Offshore Oil and Gas Development Program
Proposal makes available more than 75% of estimated undiscovered
oil and gas resources on U.S. Outer Continental Shelf

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the Proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017, which makes more than 75 percent of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources estimated in federal offshore areas available for exploration and development.

The Proposed Program, which is in line with President Obama’s direction to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic production, includes six offshore areas where there are currently active leases and exploration, and where there is known or anticipated hydrocarbon potential. It schedules 15 potential lease sales for the 2012-2017 period – 12 in the Gulf of Mexico and three off the coast of Alaska.

“Expanding safe and responsible oil and gas production from the OCS is a key component of our comprehensive energy strategy to grow America’s energy economy, and will help us continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs here at home,” said Secretary Salazar. “This five-year program will make available for development more than three-quarters of undiscovered oil and gas resources estimated on the OCS, including frontier areas such as the Arctic, where we must proceed cautiously, safely and based on the best science available.”

The Proposed Program will promote safe and responsible domestic energy production by offering substantial acreage for lease in regions with known potential for oil and gas development.

“This proposal recognizes the need to proceed carefully and in a manner that protects human safety, coastal areas, and the environment,” said Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “This Proposed Program both promotes responsible development and is informed by lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy and the reforms that we have implemented to make offshore drilling safer and more environmentally responsible.”

The Proposed Program also reflects the need for a regionally tailored approach to offshore development that accounts for issues such as current knowledge of resource potential, adequacy of infrastructure including oil spill response capabilities, and the need for a balanced approach to our use of natural resources. The majority of lease sales are scheduled for areas in the Gulf of Mexico, where resource potential and interest is greatest and where infrastructure is most mature.

“A key part of safe and responsible development of our oil and gas resources is recognizing that different environments and communities require different approaches and technologies. In Alaska and off its coast, the Proposed Program recommends that the current inventory of already-leased areas in the Arctic should be expanded only after additional evaluations have been completed, and in a manner that accounts for the Arctic’s unique environmental resources and the social, cultural, and subsistence needs of Native Alaskan communities,” said Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes.

The Proposed Program includes lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, but the single sales are scheduled late in the 5-year period to facilitate further scientific study and data collection, and longer term planning for spill response preparedness and infrastructure. The proposal suggests that any lease sales in the Arctic be tailored to avoid sensitive environmental resources, including areas accessed by Native Alaskans for subsistence uses.

For more information on the proposed program, go to:

The proposed program, the second of three to be issued prior to the establishment of the next 5-Year Program, will be open for significant public comment and consideration. The Draft Proposed Program (DPP) for 2010-2015, the first of the three proposals, was released on January 16, 2009. Following public comment and review periods for the proposed program, as well as the accompanying Draft Environmental Impact Statement, a Proposed Final Program (PFP) and a Final EIS will be submitted to the President and Congress.
The OCS Lands Act requires that the Secretary of the Interior prepare a 5-year program that includes a schedule of oil and gas lease sales and indicates the size, timing and location of proposed leasing activity as determined by the Secretary to best meet national energy needs for the 5-year period following its approval, while addressing a range of economic, environmental and social considerations.

The Proposed Program is consistent with the Obama Administration’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, which aims to promote domestic energy security and reduce oil imports by a third by 2025 through a comprehensive national energy policy. For more information, go to:

See below to view the items being released in coordination with the Proposed Program. These materials will also be available tomorrow in the Federal Register’s Reading Room for inspection at:



Below are statements from former Virginia Governors George Allen & Tim Kaine:

Statement from George Allen on Virginia’s Exclusion from the Five-Year Federal Oil and Gas Leasing Plan

Henrico, VA – Today, the Obama Administration continued to stand in the way of thousands of new, good-paying jobs with the release of the five-year federal plan for oil and gas leases that excludes Virginia from consideration for and even the possibility of a lease sale for exploration off Virginia’s coast. In response to this Administration’s obstruction of Virginia’s energy resources, George Allen issued the following statement:

“The people of Virginia are ready and willing to provide the affordable and reliable energy we need to power America, and the federal government should get out of the way. This Administration’s counterproductive, punishing energy policies are destroying jobs and increasing costs for Virginia families and small businesses. States ought to have the right to decide for themselves whether they want to explore and develop our plentiful energy resources, not the unelected, unaccountable federal bureaucrats in Washington.

“Unleashing America’s energy resources would create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, increase our supply of affordable energy, keep our money here in the U.S.A. and generate revenues to the government, without raising taxes. It is time for America and Virginia to take control of our own destiny by embracing a policy of energy freedom.

“President Obama’s insistence on keeping Virginia’s energy resources off-limits undermines our economic recovery and makes America less competitive. My opponent, Tim Kaine, claims to support Virginia energy, but as Governor, he worked with the Obama Administration to delay the Virginia lease sale, even justifying the federal government’s authority to dictate Virginia’s energy policy.”




Richmond, VA -Governor Tim Kaine released the following statement today regarding Virginia’s exclusion from the Department of Interior’s latest lease sale to develop offshore energy resources:

“While it is encouraging to hear the Obama administration is expanding opportunities for domestic energy production, I am disappointed that Virginia has been excluded from the latest lease sale for offshore exploration. I strongly encourage the Department of Interior to add Virginia to its plans. As Governor, I supported and advanced measures to allow exploratory drilling for natural gas and, as a candidate for U.S. Senate, I remain supportive of efforts to develop our offshore energy resources as a temporary bridge to cleaner renewable energy sources. Earlier this year I gave my firm support to Sens. Webb and Warner’s bill to increase the potential area for exploration and ensure a fair split of any future proceeds between the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Their bill rightly dedicates Virginia’s share of future revenues to important priorities like land and water conservation, infrastructure improvements, and development of clean energy technology.

“I believe that clean, renewable energy will power our future. In the meantime, responsible domestic production can help create jobs, generate revenue, improve national security, and address our energy needs while clean energy technology is developed. I hope the Department of Interior and the Obama administration will recognize the bipartisan support for developing Virginia’s offshore energy resources and add Virginia to the current lease sale.”