Press Releases

Webb, Warner introduce legislation to open VA to offshore energy exploration

~ Bill would expand exploration area, provide royalties to Va. ~

Jul 06 2011

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today introduced legislation that would allow oil and natural gas exploration and production off of the Virginia coast. Both senators have consistently supported safe and responsible energy exploration on Virginia’s outer continental shelf.

The Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2011 would also expand the federal government’s map of the mid-Atlantic exploration area to more accurately reflect the extent of Virginia’s coastal resources.  

Improving upon House-backed legislation, the bill directs half of any leasing revenues to be paid to Virginia to support a range of projects including land and water conservation efforts, development of clean energy resources, transportation and other infrastructure improvement projects across the Commonwealth

“This legislation builds on an earlier proposal that I introduced with Senator John Warner in 2008,” said Senator Webb.  “We must pursue robust policies that include the expansion of our domestic energy resources in a safe and secure manner even as we develop conservation, renewable and efficient energy measures.  Opening up and expanding Virginia’s offshore resources to responsible natural gas and oil exploration holds significant promise for boosting needed domestic energy production, while bolstering the Commonwealth’s economy.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that the United States will import almost 10 million barrels a day of crude oil and refined petroleum products in 2011, which is about half of all U.S. fuel consumption. America's dependence on foreign oil is driving U.S. trade deficits: in 2010, the U.S. imported $252 billion in petroleum-related products, compared to $188 billion in 2009. The number of barrels was about the same, but oil prices jumped from $57 to about $75 per barrel. Yesterday, oil was trading at $97 a barrel.  

“Our economy and national security will be strengthened by an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to energy, including the expanded production of our own domestic energy resources. We should not be sending hundreds of billions of dollars each year to oil-producing countries that do not like us, ” Senator Warner said. “This legislation jumpstarts a multi-year process that will include responsible environmental reviews, close consultations with NASA and our military partners in Hampton Roads, and this process will include multiple public hearings. Senator Webb and I firmly believe that Virginians should benefit from any energy resources that are developed off of our coast, and our legislation specifically requires the federal government to make reasonable royalty payments to the Commonwealth.”   

In 2008, Senator Webb cosponsored similar legislation with then-Senator John Warner (R-VA) to allow the Commonwealth to conduct energy exploration activities in the outer continental shelf with revenue-sharing provisions.  In January 2010, Senators Webb and Mark Warner sent a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar insisting that Virginia's Lease Sale 220 remain on schedule.  

Specifically, the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2011 would:

  • Direct the Department of Interior to include Lease Sale 220 in the nation’s 2012-2017 five-year oil and gas lease plan.
  • Direct the Department of Interior to revise the administrative map of the Mid-Atlantic outer continental shelf (OCS) to more accurately and equitably reflect resources off of Virginia’s coast, and to include those resources in the 2012-2017 leasing plan. 
  • Direct the Secretary of Treasury to assign 37.5% of revenues derived from Virginia’s OCS resource development to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Direct the President to assign an additional 12.5% of any revenues toward land and water conservation efforts, public transportation projects and alternative energy development projects in Virginia. 

A copy of the legislation can be found below:

Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2011
Proposed Offshore Map Changes