The Commonwealth of Virginia has been smacked down by the Obama administration in its desire to drill offshore for oil and natural gas. The announcement on Wednesday blocked oil and gas exploration on the East Coast, West Coast, and part of the Gulf of Mexico for at least seven years leaving the U.S. with limited options for developing its own energy independence from those sources.
The announcement scrapped plans by state officials to embark on proposed exploration off the coast anytime soon, something many legislators had hoped would become a reality. That disappointment was expressed by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell:
“I am extremely disappointed 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. It demonstrates a complete lack of confidence in the entrepreneurial spirit of American industry and its ability to fix the problems experienced in the Gulf spill, and no confidence in the ability of the U.S. government to better plan for and react to offshore emergencies.The Governor noted that the country is experiencing one of the toughest economic times in U.S. history, and said oil exploration would have created jobs and expanded economic growth as well as help reduce American dependence on foreign oil.
Virginia's Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling also commented about the decision, expressing his desire to increase America's energy independence while providing billions of dollars in capital investment. He added:
“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.”Today's announcement turned around a decision made eight months ago when Obama reversed a long-standing ban in a decision that would allow offshore exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and along part of the East Coast including Virginia. At the time it caused an uproar among environmentalists who demanded there be no new oil wells.
The game changer was the BP oil spill that occurred just three weeks later which caused the Obama administration to step back from its decision to allow drilling. While Wednesday's announcement was a win for environmentalists, it did little to satisfy Virginians who had hoped to benefit from energy profits to help with the ever-increasing costs of running government and transportation needs, and perhaps ease the cost of fuel to consumers.
A grassroots group concerned with fiscal responsibility from government at all levels took note of the Wednesday ruling. Americans for Prosperity's Virginia Director, Ben Marchi, expressed the same concerns about jobs, energy independence, and fiscal benefits mentioned by others. His assessment was blunt as he commented:
“This excessive, sweeping and unnecessary move by the Obama Administration is nothing short of a kneejerk reaction that will have lasting repercussions on the economy of Virginia, potential job creation and the nation at large.Even Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner joined in with McDonnell, promising "to explore ways to re-examine this decision" and saying he saw no reason to wait another seven years. His sentiments were not shared by environmentalists who cheered the decision.
Meanwhile, other countries continue to drill. One of those is Cuba:
Countries like Cuba–which is set to allow Spanish oil company Repsol to begin drilling off the northern side of the island next year. A BP-type blowout there could wash crude into the Florida Keys, 50 miles away, in just three days. If drilling near Florida is too dangerous for U.S. regulators to allow, shouldn’t the President be doing something to stop Cuba from taking the same risk?That's a question others will also be asking.