ON-Lion Letter

In January, the Obama administration outlined a plan for allowing oil and gas drilling in U.S. coastal waters.  While the five-year plan from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management puts vast areas of the Arctic Ocean coastline off limits to drilling, it opens an offshore stretch in the Atlantic Ocean from Virginia to Georgia, an area that could hold large amounts of oil and gas.

"This decision has been a long time in the making, going back to the Bush Administration ten years ago or more.  It is long past time to find out what amount of gas and oil is sitting off our coast to develop and to use those resources to meet our energy needs here in the US and nationally," according to Michael Thompson, president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy in Springfield, Va.
 
Last Fall, the Thomas Jefferson Institute published a report showing that drilling of the Atlantic coast of Virginia could produce up to 32,000 jobs and as much as $526 million annually in royalty payments and $119 million in state and local taxes each year.
 
The administration, Thompson said, "should be praised for this decision.  It makes economic sense and these resources can be developed with minimal harm to our environment. 

"There are several more steps to take before leases are signed, but this is a major first step and we look forward to an outcome that allows Virginia to take full advantage of these gas and oil resources sitting 50 miles off our coast just waiting to be developed," he continued. 

"The royalty payments and taxes that will be generated will allow us to meet the important infrastructure needs in the Virginia Beach/Hampton Roads area:  sea walls to meet the challenge of rising ocean waters; keeping our port the best on the east coast; building the necessary transportation network required for a growing economic region.  All of that can now become reality without hefty tax increases."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports the Thomas Jefferson Institute's research and activities on energy policy.

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