Virginia's offshore oil drilling future in doubt - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Virginia's offshore oil drilling future in doubt

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The President's decision to halt offshore drilling exploration, has put a serious obstacle in the way of Virginia's plan to drill offshore.

Both Governor Bob McDonnell and Senator Mark Warner strongly believe that domestic oil production should still be a part of Virginia's future. Where they differ is their opinion of how the Obama Administration is handling the next stage exploration.

Up until about a month ago- Virginia was on the fast track to being the first state to reap the benefits of a new approach to oil exploration. That was a month ago. Today as oil gushes into the gulf, things have changed.

"It's clearly a setback," said Governor Bob McDonnell.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama canceled a proposed sale of lease agreements for drilling locations off the coast. It's a move Governor McDonnell believes won't solve any problems.

"Let do all the things that we were going to do anyway," said the Governor. "And if we've got all the problems addressed in two years than maybe it would be prudent to move forward."

But Senator Mark Warner disagrees. While the Democrat still supports the idea of exploring for oil off-shore. He agrees that canceling the pending lease sales makes sense. Even if it moves the process back several years.

"I think that is appropriate, as I said early on, I think we ought to take a pause until we can find, again why there weren't more fail safes," Warner said.

But how long will that pause be? McDonnell worries it could be long enough to derail the whole process- when moving forward could help to answer some key questions.

"Don't take an option off the table, which appears to have happened today," he said. "We have very bright people in this country. We are going to figure this thing out."

But will it be figured out in time for Virginia to take advantage in a safe and responsible way?

And the thing Republicans like Governor McDonnell fear the most- is exactly what environmental activist were calling for today. Use this moratorium as a step to canceling all future drilling.

The group "Environment Virginia" said today that "Beaches will not be safe until the president permanently bans drilling off the coast of Virginia"

**You can see Governor McDonnell's comments on the state of offshore drilling in Virginia, uncut,  on our Political blog- DecisionVirginia.com

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