U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., introduced legislation last week that would open areas off the coast of Virginia to energy explorers.
Director of upstream operations for the American Petroleum Institute Erik Milito said expanding the U.S. energy focus to the Atlantic coast should be part of U.S. President Barack Obama's so-called all-of-the-above energy policy.
"Before the first well can be drilled, the federal government must schedule lease sales and permit modern seismic surveys, which are essential for locating undersea energy resources," he said in a statement.
In February, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, published a proposal calling for more work in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf.
In a 5-year lease plan outlined in November 2011, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said the resource potential in the Atlantic OCS "is not well understood and surveys of these areas are incomplete and out of date."
The Virginian Pilot newspaper reports that Rigell proposed similar legislation in early 2012. It is similar to other Republican legislation that hasn't passed.