Stop Webb and Warner’s Reckless Virginia Drilling Plan

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    ( – promoted by lowkell)

    While I seriously doubt Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb give any regard to the environment, I never in a million years suspected they would deliberately and so carelessly act to its detriment.

    Various bad amendments are being added to good offshore drilling safety legislation (S. 917) that comes before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today. One such amendment will be offered by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) on behalf of “our” Virginia Senators which would require leasing off the Virginia coast.

    According to Richard Charter, one of the nation’s leading experts on offshore drilling, that amendment contains the following conditions:

    1) Mandates that certain waters off the Mid-Atlantic coast must be opened for offshore drilling during the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Leasing Program for 2012-2017.

    2) Arbitrarily defines Mid-Atlantic coastal waters so that more of those waters would fall under the jurisdiction of Virginia for the purposes of directing any resulting federal revenues from oil and gas leasing and production to Virginia, based on the ratio of linear miles of Virginia’s lengthy and convoluted coastline to the total tidal shoreline miles of the overall Mid-Atlantic OCS Planning Area.

    3) By-passes the important critical balancing test currently required under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). (Deja vu 2007-2012 lawsuit?) As such, conflicts with fishing uses or environmentally sensitive areas would not be considered in determining lease areas.  Instead, the Secretary of the Interior would be forced to offer the entire area for leasing regardless of economic or social impact.  The only exemption from offshore oil and gas leasing off of Virginia’s newly-expanded waters would be for specific tracts found by the President, in consultation with the Committees of Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives, to be in conflict with military operations relating to national security.

    4) This legislation does not allow for input from other states whose coastlines would be negatively impacted should an oil spill occur off the coast of Virginia.

    Once again, offshore drilling becomes nothing more than a political football. These amendments do nothing but cripple a much needed drilling safety bill. “These amendments are bad policy, would keep the U.S. dependent on dirty and dangerous fossil fuels and blunt our nation’s transition to a clean energy future,” states a letter sent yesterday from 13 groups including the Wilderness Society, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice and others.

    Call Senators Webb and Warner now. Tell them to stop playing games with our Virginia coastal economy and environment. These amendments are bad policy, would keep the U.S. dependent on dirty and dangerous fossil fuels and blunt our nation’s transition to a clean energy future and politically ham-string a good drilling safety bill.  The content of the bill passed the committee unanimously last year. Keep in mind that more than a year after one of the largest disasters in U.S. history, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Congress has yet to pass legislation to reform the oil and gas industry.

    Webb: 202-224-4024

    Warner:  202-224-2023

    Or click here to send them an email demanding protection of our Virginia coast.

    • Eileen Levandoski

      Menendez, Lautenberg: Proposal to Allow Coastal Oil Drilling in VA Waters in 6 months is Dangerous and Tramples Neighboring State’s Rights

      Amendment in Senate Energy Committee Mark Up is a Land Grab by Virginia and a Circumvention of the Offshore Drilling Process

      WASHINGTON – New Jersey Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) released statements this morning condemning an amendment expected to be offered by Senator Barrasso (R-WY) at a Senate Energy Committee markup today that will allow coastal oil drilling in Virginia next year.  The amendment would also redraw the map used by federal authorities for resource planning to provide Virginia more rights to oil resources and offshore wind development rights.

      The amendment based on the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act would allow oil drilling off the Virginia coast, less than 100 miles from Cape May, a major tourist attraction and source of income for New Jersey.

      “This is an unprecedented attempt by Virginia to grab resources from neighboring states and circumvent federal offshore resource planning.  I will not allow any state to run roughshod over the process and put New Jersey in harm’s way.  Drilling off the coast of Virginia would put New Jersey and its coastal economy at risk for an oil spill.  Cape May is less than 100 miles from Virginia waters and oil slicks do not stop at state borders.  The Gulf spill and the current spills on the Yellowstone River and off the coast of China show that oil drilling always has risk,” said Senator Menendez.

      “If an accident like the BP oil spill in the Gulf happened off Virginia’s coast, New Jersey’s multi-billion dollar coastal economy would be one of the first casualties,” said Senator Lautenberg.  “The costs of an oil spill to our economy, environment and health are too high.  Offshore drilling isn’t the solution to our energy problems, and I will fight initiatives like this and continue to push for 21st century clean energy solutions.”

      The proposal would allow drilling as soon as next year in what is called Lease Sale 220, less than 100 miles from New Jersey and even closer to Maryland and Delaware.  In addition, the proposal redraws carefully planned boundaries between states’ coastal waters and instead replaces them with boundaries based on arbitrary coastline figures from a 1975 NOAA brochure.  It is a clear attempt by Virginia to gain offshore resources at the expense of Delaware, North Carolina, and Maryland.

      Earlier this year, Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Lautenberg (D-NJ) reintroduced the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Act to ban drilling off the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina to Maine.

      On background:

      • According to a New Jersey Department of Tourism study, approximately 60 percent of New Jersey’s $35.5 billion tourism industry comes from the Jersey Shore and the state also has a multi-billion dollar fishing industry.VisitNJ.org:

      • The Department of Defense has stated that 80% of the proposed lease sale off the coast of Virginia would interfere with the Navy’s Virginia Capes Operating Area, a critical military training and testing area. [DOD: Report on the compatibility of Department of Defense (DoD) activities with oil and gas resource development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)]

      • The Energy Information Administration has estimated that opening all offshore areas in the continental United States to drilling would reduce gas prices by 3 cents starting in 2030. [EIA, Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf]

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    • I urge everyone to contact Senators Webb and Warner immediately and let them know, in no uncertain terms, how you feel about this. What a crock.

    • bruce roemmelt

      Expectations – Low