Consumer group says safe, responsible offshore energy exploration presents “tremendous economic opportunity”

HOUSTON – January 27, 2010   The Interior Department will not proceed with a long-scheduled offshore energy lease sale in areas 50 miles and beyond the coast of Virginia either this year or next, Reuters reports — despite a request from Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell that commonsense efforts be made right now to ensure that work can finally begin. Following the revelation today from the Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) president David Holt issued the following statement:

“When the governor of the commonwealth of Virginia asks the federal government to partner with his administration in an effort to convert the abundant reserves of energy off his shores into jobs, revenue and energy security for Virginians, you’d hope to see a sensible process move forward. If news today out of MMS is any indication, the federal government appears ready to delay that critical work for at least another year, meaning additional delays in creating jobs, reducing energy costs and getting the U.S. economy moving again.

The Administration should do more to show that it recognizes the tremendous economic opportunity that safe and responsible offshore energy exploration presents to the citizens of Virginia, and the nation at large.

“We’re talking about thousands of high-wage jobs here, and billions in annual revenue that can be raised without imposing a single new tax. When it comes to promoting alternative energy resources offshore, the Administration has compiled an impressive record – and we applaud those efforts. This announcement signals that the Administration may not be looking to maximize our nation’s enormous oil and gas potential offshore with the same enthusiasm.  Those who support a balanced, commonsense national energy strategy look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to create jobs, improve our national and energy security and responsibly allow access to our abundant resources.”

NOTE: Identified by the Interior Department as an area for future lease in 2008, the Virginia lease sale, scheduled currently to take place in 2011, has been delayed for at least another year, according to reports.

Late last year, then-Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell of Virginia (now formally the governor) wrote Secretary Salazar a letter suggesting that “[a]ny effort to remove or delay Virginia’s participation in the lease sale would significantly hamper our efforts to create jobs, eliminate much-needed new revenue, and undermine support for President Obama’s stated commitment to make the United States more energy secure.”