McDonnell “disappointed” over Obama oil drilling decision

The Obama administration delivered energy independence and job creation a blow today when it failed to include the eastern Gulf, the Atlantic and the Pacific in the next five-year leasing plan.

Governor Bob McDonnell, a tireless advocate of including Virginia in the lease sale was particularly annoyed as Virginia will not gain thousands of jobs because of the decision over the next seven years. It was estimated in 2005 that oil and natural gas drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of Virgina could create 2,578 new jobs, induce capital investment of $7.84 billion, yield $644 million in direct and indirect payroll, and result in $271 million in state and local taxes.

“I am extremely disappointed (emph. added) that the Obama Administration has unilaterally blocked environmentally responsible, and economically crucial, offshore energy exploration and development in Virginia, along the Atlantic Coast and throughout other broad swaths of offshore territory nationwide. This is an irresponsible and short-sighted decision,” said McDonnell. “This decision comes in the midst of one of the toughest economies in our history. The cost of today’s decision will be seen in major lost job opportunities, surrendered economic growth, and increased dependence on foreign sources of energy, from nations often hostile to American interests.”

Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, Virginia’s chief jobs creation officer was equally disappointed by today’s decision:

“I am very disappointed (emph. added) that the Obama Administration has refused to move forward with the responsible development of our nation’s offshore energy resources….Unfortunately, as a result of the President’s unjustified decision, these considerable resources will remain unutilized and our over-dependence on foreign sources of energy will continue. This is another example of the Obama Administration pursuing anti-business policies that will perpetuate our current economic malaise.”

Speaking about the national implications of the decision, the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, Jack Gerard said, “The oil and natural gas industry is a reliable vehicle for growing the economy and creating good-paying jobs. This decision shuts the door on new development off our nation’s coasts and effectively ensures that new American jobs will not be realized. It will stifle investment, deny billions in revenue for critical government services and increase our dependence on foreign energy sources.”

Gerard should know something about the impact, API represents more than 400 oil and natural gas companies, an industry that supplies most of the U.S.’ energy needs, supports more than 9.2 million U.S. jobs and 7.5 percent of the U.S. economy, and, since 2000, has invested nearly $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives.

Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins though sees something a little more sinister in the White House’s motives:

“I’m starting to wonder just what Virginia’s economy ever did to Barack Obama. First he rams the federal takeover of our healthcare system through congress, with Jim Webb casting the deciding vote, that will cost Virginians millions. Then he moves to unilaterally close the Joint Forces Command down in Hampton Roads which will cost many Virginians their jobs and hurt our military’s capabilities. Today he announces that he won’t allow offshore drilling of our coast. Virginia stood to gain as many as 15,000 jobs from offshore drilling – good paying, long-term, private sector jobs. And that’s apart from the millions that would go to the state for road projects. If I didn’t know better, I’d say Barack Obama was bound and determined to hurt Virginia’s economy any way he could.”

Mullins went on to wonder aloud about Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner and whether they would be willing to stand-up to the administration. Which is a reasonable question to ask.

Before the Deepwater Horizon accident, both Webb and Warner supported the offshore drilling initiative.

Update: There’s that “disappointed” word again. This time from soon-to-be Majority Leader Eric Cantor:

“I am deeply disappointed (emph. added) by the Obama Administration’s heavy-handed decision to block offshore energy exploration and development along the Atlantic Coast, including off the coast of Virginia.

“America sits on a virtual sea of energy resources that can be tapped to heat our homes, sustain our businesses, provide sustainable jobs and power our means of transportation. By taking this important energy sector off the table for Virginia and other states, the President has effectively crippled our nation’s ability to provide an energy independent future for our children.

“We can and must do better to safely and responsibly develop our nation’s energy potential and I believe this decision lacks the foresight necessary to address the energy challenges facing our country today and in the years ahead.”