Fredericksburg, Va. – December 29, 2009   How important is offshore energy exploration to the economic future of Virginia? So important that the state’s incoming governor has already written to Interior secretary Ken Salazar asking his agency to move forward on planned lease work “immediately,” indicating the high priority that the development of all available energy resources – wind, tidal, oil and natural gas – will have when Governor-elect Bob McDonnell assumes office next month.

“This letter from the governor-elect puts the state of Virginia squarely on record in support of responsible, commonsense efforts to leverage our homegrown resources into jobs, revenue and energy security for the future,” said Michael Whatley, president of the Virginia-based Southeast Energy Alliance, a regional affiliate of the 250,000-member Consumer Energy Alliance. “More than that, it sends a powerful message to policymakers and Interior officials in Washington – especially as key questions related to the future of offshore development are asked and answered over the coming months. This is a tremendous statement on behalf of the families, farms, factories and businesses in the Old Dominion.”

The McDonnell letter cites a study in which the former president of Old Dominion University found that the production of natural gas alone offshore could help create more than 2,500 jobs, generate more than $640 million in local wages, and net the state $271 million in tax revenue. As it relates to oil, the study found reserves in Virginia’s portion of the outer continental shelf could help fuel all four million cars in the state for four years – on that one, single source alone.

“We strongly applaud Governor-elect McDonnell for his stance on responsible offshore energy development,” said Consumer Energy Alliance president David Holt. “By encouraging Secretary Salazar to move forward with OCS development in Virginia’s adjacent waters, the governor-elect is advancing a tremendous national interest as well. Millions of jobs in manufacturing, airlines, transportation, and agriculture are all directly tied to our ability to effectively utilize our abundant natural gas and oil resources.  It’s not just about jobs in the energy sector, it’s about jobs across all sectors of the U.S. economy.”

Earlier this year, Southeast Energy Alliance released a study examining the economic impact that offshore energy development could have on Virginia’s neighbor to the south, North Carolina. In that report, SEA found that responsible exploration efforts could be expected to create 6,700 new jobs, and $484 million in annual revenue for the state. An SEA report with a similar scope was commissioned for South Carolina as well, finding that more than 2,250 new jobs and $45 billion in federal, state, and local government revenues could be generated as a result of safe, responsible exploration.

An electronic version of the letter can be downloaded here.

NOTE: A recent Rasmussen survey finds “that 68% of U.S. voters believe offshore oil drilling should be allowed.”

The Southeast Energy Alliance is a non-partisan organization of businesses, trade associations and non-profit organizations –  including Farm Bureaus, Electric Cooperative Associations, Chambers of Commerce and Manufacturing Associations – across the Southeastern United States that understand the importance of the development of sound energy policies to ensure the economic viability of their organization. Utilizing grassroots, grass-tops, public advocacy and education at both the state and federal levels, SEA is dedicated to projects and activities that will ensure access to affordable and reliable energy for families, farms and businesses across the Southeast. SEA is the Southeastern regional affiliate of the Consumer Energy Alliance.