Sens. Warner & Kaine submit legislation to expand offshore energy leases
U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats from Virginia, Wednesday cosponsored the introduction of The Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act of 2013.
The legislation would expand American offshore energy production with a revised five-year leasing plan, and provide revenue sharing. It provides an alternative to the Obama administration’s proposed 2012-2017 offshore oil and gas leasing plan, which excludes Virginia.
The bill is similar to House legislation recently proposed by U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.).
“I have long advocated for additional exploration and the responsible production of domestic energy resources off of Virginia’s coast,” Sen. Warner said in a statement. “Our legislation includes appropriate environmental protections and an equitable formula for sharing revenues between the state and federal governments. 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.”
Sen. Kaine noted that Virginia is well positioned to be a leader in offshore energy exploration. “Virginia’s diverse energy portfolio is a model for the nation. This legislation will bolster our energy security, create jobs and direct revenues to Virginia that will support important priorities across the state,” he said.
The legislation would provide revenue sharing (37.5 percent) to Virginia, using a similar formula to what Gulf Coast states currently collect. The revenue sharing language is technology neutral, covering all forms of energy production, including offshore wind energy.
Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong supporters of wind energy’s potential for areas off the Virginia coast, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has recently announced that it is continuing to move forward with a plan to offer a wind energy research lease to the state’s Department of Mines Minerals and Energy (DMME).
Sen. Warner introduced similar legislation in 2011 and 2012. Sales of leases off the Virginia coast were scheduled to begin in 2011 but were withheld until 2017 after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
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.