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McDonnell signs bills taking steps to be the energy capital of the east coast

McDonnell signs HB 756 [1] and 787 [2], taking a solid first step towards energy independence. Here’s the McDonnell release:

Governor McDonnell Signs Legislation Positioning Virginia to Become the “Energy Capital of the East Coast”

Positions Commonwealth to Move Forward in Becoming First State on East Coast to Explore for Oil and Natural Gas Offshore; Part of Governor’s Comprehensive Energy Plan for Commonwealth

McDonnell Joined at Signing by Legislative Leaders on Energy Legislation: Delegate Chris Stolle; Delegate Ron Villanueva; Delegate Barbara Comstock and Delegate Charles Poindexter

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell was joined by a bipartisan group of delegates and senators this afternoon as he signed legislation that will allocate 80% of future offshore royalties and revenues to transportation and the remaining 20% to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, which researches and develops renewable energy solutions. HB 756, a key piece of the Governor’s ‘Jobs and Opportunities’ Agenda, will allocate 80% of future offshore royalties and revenues to transportation (70% to Transportation Trust Fund and 10% to local transportation projects) and the remaining 20% to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, which researches and develops renewable energy solutions. Equally important, HB 787 provides a clear statement of the Commonwealth in support of oil and natural gas exploration, development, and production 50 miles or more off Virginia’s coast. The Governor and members of his administration have been in steady communication with United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar expressing strong support for keeping the offshore lease sale on schedule for 2011. These pieces of legislation underscore those efforts and provide valuable evidence of Virginia’s readiness to lead on offshore exploration and drilling.

While signing the legislation, Governor McDonnell remarked, “These key pieces of legislation are necessary to help Virginia become the ‘Energy Capital of the East Coast.’ Virginians understand that this common-sense policy will lead to millions of dollars in revenue as well as thousands of new jobs. Revenue gained from offshore exploration will go directly to two key areas—transportation and energy research and development. Millions of dollars will go towards improving our transportation system that will ensure the free flow of commerce and attract further business investments in the Commonwealth. By investing 20% in renewable energy research and production we will ensure that energy sources of the future, such as wind and biofuels, are made more commercially practicable.”

The Governor went on to say, “It’s clear that the policy of the Commonwealth is to support both oil and natural gas exploration, development, and production. This is an issue with bipartisan consensus—both of Virginia’s U.S. Senators, and most of our Congressmen agree, that environmentally-safe, offshore energy development is a matter of national and economic security. In addition, we’re sending an important message that we are ready to go – and there should be no reason for Washington to delay the approval of the offshore lease sale and eventually exploration and drilling. Virginia is ready– we hope the federal government will move forward and join us in saying ‘yes’. I thank the patrons of this legislation, and leaders on this issue, and look forward to working with them to ensure Virginia becomes the first state on the East Coast to explore for oil and natural gas offshore,” concluded Governor McDonnell.

Speaking about the need for this legislation, Delegate Chris Stolle commented, “Ensuring that revenue from offshore energy exploration goes to transportation and research and development is crucial for the economic viability and security of the Commonwealth. I was proud to carry this piece of the Governor’s ‘Jobs and Opportunities Agenda’ through the House of Delegates this session, and am pleased to see it signed into law today.”

Delegate Villanueva added, “I thank the Governor for his leadership on this issue and appreciate his focus on exploring for both oil and natural gas. Both will enable Virginians to reap revenue for generations to come. I am proud to stand with the Governor and our citizens to signal that Virginia is ready for energy exploration; it is my sincere hope that we Washington will agree and give its approval.”

Senator Wagner also noted, “I’m pleased that we have made so much progress on moving the Governor’s energy agenda forward during the 2010 session. We have come a long way since introducing the resolution asking Congress to lift the moratorium 5 years ago.”

To see the bills please visit:

HB756: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=101&typ=bil&val=HB756

HB787: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?ses=101&typ=bil&val=HB787 [2]

To learn more about the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium please see: http://www.vcerc.org/ [3]