WASHINGTON, July 7 (UPI) -- Opening the waters off the Virginia coast to oil and gas exploration would enhance energy security and boost the economy, two Democratic lawmakers said.
U.S. Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner, both Virginia Democrats, introduced a bill that would allow energy companies to explore for oil and natural gas on Virginia's Outer Continental Shelf.
Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill meant to remove obstacles to energy production on the Outer Continental Shelf. Supporters of the measure say lower energy prices and more domestic energy security could come from oil and gas exploration on the OCS.
"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," said Webb in a statement.
The bill would put half of the lease revenues into state coffers and direct the U.S. Department of Interior to include Virginia's offshore resources in the five-year plan for oil and natural gas leases.
The Interior Department under the proposal would be directed to revise its data on resource availability off Virginia's coast.
"We should not be sending hundreds of billions of dollars each year to oil-producing countries that do not like us," Warner said in his statement.