Virginia lawmakers earmark future offshore energy revenue

Approval by Virginia’s senate and house of a bill allocating future offshore energy royalties and revenues to transportation and alternative energy research signals that the state is ready for environmentally responsible development off its coast, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said.

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 24 -- Approval by Virginia’s senate and house of a bill allocating future offshore energy royalties and revenues to transportation and alternative energy research signals that the state is ready for environmentally responsible development off its coast, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell said.

“There is bipartisan consensus on this issue,” the governor said on Feb. 22 after the Senate, by 21 to 19 votes, approved a proposal by Del. Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) which passed the state’s house of delegates on Feb. 8. “Offshore energy development has the support of this administration, the Democratic state senate, the Republican house of delegates, and US Sens. Mark Warner (D) and Jim Webb (D).”

The measure’s approval was more symbolic than substantive because it would be years before Virginia began to receive a share of revenue and royalties from new federal offshore energy development. McDonnell, who campaigned for election in 2008 on a platform that supported developing Virginia’s offshore energy resources to create jobs, said that the bill nevertheless ensures that the money will be directed to two crucial areas.

Stolle’s bill earmarks 70% of those revenues and royalties to the state’s road and rail fund, 10% to local transportation projects, and 20% to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, which McDonnell said studies and develops renewable energy solutions.

“When we move forward in the years ahead, we will create thousands of new jobs for our citizens, produce hundreds of millions of dollars in new state revenue, and spur billions in investment in our commonwealth,” the governor said. “Virginia is ready to take the lead in helping move our nation closer toward energy independence while creating new, good-paying jobs for our citizens.”

The National Ocean Industries Association also applauded the Virginia state senate’s action. “The vote, backed by Gov. McDonnell, demonstrates a strong bipartisan commitment to allow OCS exploration off its coast and actively work with Congress and the Obama administration to move forward with [Outer Continental Shelf] Lease Sale 220,” NOIA Pres. Tom Fry said on Feb. 23.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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