Virginia officials try again for offshore energy

May 23, 2013 at 7:08 AM

RICHMOND, Va., May 23 (UPI) -- Two Virginia lawmakers said they wanted to change a federal 5-year lease plan to include oil and natural gas reserves off the state's coast.

U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats, co-sponsored legislation that would revise the federal 5-year lease plan by including offshore Virginia in future oil and gas leases.

The U.S. Energy Department reports there may be "substantial oil and gas reserves" offshore Virginia. In a 5-year lease plan outlined in November 2011, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said the resource potential in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf "is not well understood and surveys of these areas are incomplete and out of date."

"I have long advocated for additional exploration and the responsible production of domestic energy resources off of Virginia's coast," Warner said in a statement. "Our legislation includes appropriate environmental protections and an equitable formula for sharing revenues between the state and federal governments."

API Director of Upstream and Industry Operations Erik Milito praised the measure as a potential economic stimulus to the state.

"Virginia has much to gain from offshore drilling," he said in a statement.

The legislation is similar to a measure proposed last month by U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va. The Virginia Pilot newspaper reported in April that Rigell's effort mirrors legislation proposed in 2012, though few offshore measures gained traction.

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