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.