Interior secretary urged to reconsider offshore drilling ban in Virginia

All eight Republicans who represent Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives called on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday to reconsider a decision to ban offshore oil and gas drilling off the commonwealth’s coast.

In a letter to Salazar, the congressmen said the plan had statewide support and would create jobs. It came in reaction to the Obama administration’s decision not to include Virginia in the five-year oil and gas leasing plan announced last week.

“Given the broad support … it is astonishing that you have put forward a Five Year Plan that locks up Virginia’s coastal waters from future offshore energy development — directly ignoring the resolve of the majority of Virginians on this issue,” the letter says. “Virginia’s resolve in support of offshore energy development is unchanged and it is our hope that the U.S. Department of the Interior will adhere to federal law and respect the laws, goals and policies of the Commonwealth on this matter.”      

The letter was sent by Rep. Rob Wittman and co-signed by the seven other Republicans who represent the state in the House: J. Randy Forbes; Robert Hurt; Bob Goodlatte; Eric Cantor; Morgan Griffith; and Frank Wolf.    

Offshore drilling enjoys broad bipartisan support among Virginia’s elected officials. Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner, both Democrats, said last week that they would urge the administration to reconsider.        

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.

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