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Virginia open to offshore oil and gas

March 26, 2010 at 10:31 AM

WASHINGTON, March 26 (UPI) -- A decision by Virginian lawmakers to open the door to offshore oil and gas exploration will bring in billions of dollars to the state, Washington backers said.

Lawmakers in Virginia are considering a measure that would require U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to conduct a lease sale for offshore Virginia.

Randall Luthi, the president of the National Ocean Industries Association, praised the bipartisan efforts of Virginia lawmakers to explore for oil and gas off its coast.

"Today, Virginia is still holding the door open and hoping the federal government will take a seat at the table," he said.

The bill would require the commonwealth to allocate any revenue from offshore oil and gas activity, giving the state an incentive to producers to explore for resources in its coastal waters.

"Two weeks ago, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell signed (legislation) that virtually opened the door and put out the welcome mat to energy development off its shores," added Luthi.

The latest measure continues a bipartisan effort by Virginia efforts to expand its offshore potential.

"Virginia is ready to become the energy capitol of the East Coast," McDonnell said last week.

Lawmakers introduced the state House of Representatives resolution Thursday that would remove obstacles to exploring for oil and gas in Virginia's waters of the Outer Continental Shelf.

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