Wednesday, November 4, 2009

MacDonnell’s election may influence 2011 OCS lease sale

Virginia voters probably had other reasons when they elected Republican Robert F. MacDonnell as their state’s 71st governor on Nov. 3. But their choice could influence whether the US Minerals Management Service holds a scheduled federal offshore oil and gas lease sale off the Old Dominion’s coast in 2011.

Democrat Timothy M. Kaine, the state’s current governor, asked US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to postpone the lease sale on Feb. 19. MMS put it into the 2007-12 five-year Outer Continental Shelf plan after Kaine signed a comprehensive statewide energy plan into law early in his term.

But the governor said in his letter to Salazar that the law supports “federal efforts to determine the extent of natural gas resources 50 miles or more off the Atlantic shoreline, including appropriate federal funding for such an investigation. Our policies do not support exploration for oil or production of gas or oil, which would be allowed under Lease Sale 220.”

Kaine applauded Salazar’s decision to extend the public comment period by 180 days for a proposed five-year OCS plan which then-secretary Dirk A. Kempthorne launched at the end of July in response to record high crude oil prices. “As I understand it, that five-year plan includes three areas off the Atlantic Coast. I have consistently called for [MMS] to consider the Atlantic Coast as a whole, rather than singling out a particular state for a lease sale,” the governor told Salazar.

“I believe that no lease sale should be conducted in the Atlantic until the process that you have outlined for the five-year program is complete. During that time, I look forward to Virginia being able to continue a dialogue with MMS as we address the challenging issues related to production of offshore energy resources,” he continued.

During his election campaign this year, however, MacDonnell emphasized jobs creation and said in at least one television commercial that a key would be building robust energy industries in the state using all technologies and drawing from all sources, including offshore. It’s too soon to say whether he’ll formally notify Salazar, but the apparent implication is that he prefers having the lease sale move forward.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home