Virginia’s Dem senators press for Atlantic offshore drilling

In March 2010, the White House floated plans to allow drilling off the coast of mid-Atlantic and southeastern states, but backed off in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Interior Department’s final 2012-2017 lease sale program includes only areas in the Gulf of Mexico and, in the later years, off Alaska’s coast.

In addition, after the BP spill began, the administration canceled a previously scheduled lease sale off Virginia’s coast that had been slated to occur in 2011.

Warner said the political outlook for his plan to allow drilling off Virginia has improved.

“I believe that changes in the membership of the Senate after the 2012 elections have helped to produce a potentially more supportive atmosphere for our legislation,” he said in a statement issued alongside the measure's introduction Wednesday.

The Virginia senators say their proposal would include strong environmental protections.

“The Warner/Kaine legislation requires appropriate environmental reviews before any production could begin, as well as consultation with federal agencies such as the Navy, NASA, NOAA and others to ensure energy exploration or production does not disrupt federal activities along the Virginia coast,” a summary states.

The legislation would give the state a 37.5 percent share of revenue from both oil and gas and renewable energy development off its coast.