The governors of North and South Carolina and Virginia have asked Interior Secretary nominee Sally Jewell to revise the Obama administration's current policy and open the waters offshore their states for oil and gas exploration.
"As governors, we strive to pursue policies that help create jobs and make energy more affordable while protecting our states' natural resources," said North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in a Feb. 14 letter to Jewell in care of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
A number of governors have expressed interest in reforming offshore energy policy to allow states to pursue exploration on the Outer Continental Shelf. McCrory, Haley and McDonnell told Jewell they would be "listening intently" to Jewell's answers during her nomination hearings regarding offshore exploration.
The three governors also urged Jewell to consider the policy recommendations outlined by the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee in 2012, "An Energy Blueprint for America." The recommendations include empowering U.S. states to make offshore exploration restrictions specific to local considerations and revenue sharing measures for all offshore energy projects.
The governors said they were heartened to see the recent release of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski's (R-AK) "Energy 20/20" blueprint that recommends expanding OCS leasing to the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Atlantic OCS, including Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
These proposals build on past legislative action from the 112th Congress, including the bipartisan Offshore Petroleum Expansion Now Act of 2012, sponsored by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and a suite of bills passed by the House of Representatives.
"It's estimated that energy production from the Atlantic OCS could create more than 140,000 new jobs within the next 20 years, and we hope you will ensure that the Administration is a partner with the states on this issue," the governors commented in the letter.
American Petroleum Institute (API) President and CEO Jack Gerard commended the governors "for their vision and leadership in recognizing this game changing opportunity to produce more American energy."
"We have an opportunity to lead the world on energy, and through safe and responsible development of our own oil and natural gas resources we can continue our path as a global energy superpower," Gerard noted.
Gerard also called for the U.S. government to update information about oil and gas resources in the Atlantic Ocean offshore the United States, which is over 30 years old and out of data.
"It would be irresponsible of our government leaders not to allow exploration and development utilizing the latest technologies to learn exactly how much energy we have."
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