Poll shows Virginia voters strongly support offshore drilling

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Sixty-seven percent of voters in Virginia support offshore drilling for domestic oil and natural gas resources, according to a new poll conducted by Harris Interactive.

The poll was done in late September for the American Petroleum Institute’s “What America is Thinking on Energy Issues” series. API, based in Washington, D.C.,  is a national trade association that represents America’s technology-driven oil and natural gas industry.

According to the poll, the support bridged party lines, with clear majorities of Republicans (81 percent), Democrats (52 percent) and Independents (71 percent) all in favor of offshore drilling.

“Virginia has an opportunity to expand its energy portfolio both on and offshore,” Mike Ward, executive director of the Virginia Petroleum Council, said in a statement. “We could bring good-paying jobs to the Old Dominion and diversify our economy simply by allowing more oil and natural gas production to occur in our state and off our shores.”

In Virginia, 88 percent of voters said producing more oil and natural gas here at home is important. Again, there was broad agreement between Republicans (92 percent), Democrats (81 percent) and Independents (91 percent).

The telephone poll was conducted on September 24-29 from among 616 registered voters in Virginia, with a sampling error of +/- 4 percent.
Its release comes on the first day of the annual Governor’s Conference on Energy, which started Tuesday in Richmond. The conference, which runs through Thursday at the Greater Richmond Convention Center and typically attracts hundreds of exhibitors and attendees, offers sessions on a range of topics including fracking and wind generation.

Gov. Bob McDonnell began the conference in 2010, with energy development a key goal of his administration. Since then, Virginia has seen some momentum on wind generation. On Sept. 4, Dominion Virginia Power won a $1.6 million bid to lease 113,000 federal acres off Virginia’s cost to build the state’s first commercial wind farm.

Dominion has signed the lease and has six months to submit a site assessment plan to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The energy company has a five-year development time frame to submit a construction and operations plan. The term of the lease is 38 years, and Dominion officials have said they expect the first wind turbine to go up in about 10 years if the project gets necessary federal and state approvals. 

According to the API, the Obama administration soon will begin work on its next five-year offshore leasing plan, in which areas of the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) from Delaware to northern Florida could be made available for oil and natural gas leasing. Early next year, the administration also is expected to decide whether to permit seismic surveys in this area for the first time in 30 years.
Seismic surveys are the most accurate method available to prospect for oil and natural gas reserves offshore apart from drilling.

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