Senators Warner and Webb Introduce Natural-Gas Exploration Bill

Senator John Warner and Senator Jim Webb introduced legislation today that would allow the Commonwealth of Virginia to explore for natural gas off its shores, empowering Virginia, not Washington, to make decisions regarding its own coastline.

The bill would allow the state, upon approval by Virginia's governor and its General Assembly, to petition the Department of the Interior for a waiver to explore for natural-gas resources. Should exploration yield potential reserves, the commonwealth could then request a waiver to extract natural gas. It would also give Virginia's neighbors a voice in the process should the commonwealth submit such petitions.

Under the terms of the bill, the federal government and Virginia would share any revenue that might be generated: 50 percent of all monies would go to a new Clean Energy Fund in the federal treasury, 37.5 percent to the state and 6.25 percent to the Land and Water Conservation Fund for conservation purposes. An additional 6.25 percent would be placed into a fund to mitigate any damages that might result from drilling.

"I believe it is essential that we continue to modernize our energy infrastructure and develop a reliable, commonsense approach to American energy, one that includes new supplies from domestic exploration and extraction, encourages conservation and promotes the use and advancement of clean, renewable energies," said Warner. "I am pleased to be joined by my colleague, Senator Webb, in introducing bipartisan legislation that would allow Virginia, if it chooses to do so, to explore for natural gas."

"I am co-sponsoring Senator Warner's legislation to move forward with the possibility of natural gas exploration off the coast of Virginia," said Webb. "Our national security requires that we work responsibly toward energy independence, and Senator Warner's legislation offers a preliminary step toward exploration and development of one of our domestic energy sources. In order to address our nation's energy crisis, all options need to be on the table, as we seek a comprehensive national energy policy that incorporates the combined approaches of energy conservation, renewable energy, clean coal, and nuclear power."