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The Blue & Gray Press | August 19, 2019

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Drilling for Oil on Coast of Virginia Benefits the State Economy, Residents

Late last month, President Obama decided to open up Virginia’s coast to oil and natural gas drilling. The move is shrewd politically and has been welcomed by individuals in both parties, including Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.

McDonnell has greeted the news warmly, stating his desire to make Virginia “the energy capital of the East Coast.” Environmental groups, however, have been vocal in their displeasure of the administration’s measure. While the environmental groups have some legitimate fears about ruining the ecosystem, this move by Obama is also great for Virginians.

First and foremost, according to McDonnell, this will create an estimated 2,600 jobs. There will have to be crews to work the oil rigs, there will need to be more workers at Virginia’s ports to handle the influx of energy traffic and there will be plenty of opportunities for lawyers representing clients that are trying to block development or sue the energy companies.

Also, according to McDonnell, opening up Virginia’s coasts will create “$8 billion in capital investments, $644 million in payroll and $271 million in tax revenue over 10 years,” not to mention the revenue from the oil itself. Virginia’s economy is severely depressed. We need jobs, and we need them now.

Opening Virginia’s coast to oil drilling will also help wean the country off of foreign oil. It isn’t the perfect solution, but it will be at least another 20 to 30 years before alternative energy is even viable. Then we will have to wait even longer for it to be produced in mass quantities with a sustainable market.

With current oil supply expected to exceed demand within 30 years because of China’s rapid growth, we will need to develop short-term solutions. If we can get oil from sources closer to us than Venezuela or the Middle East, there will be fewer opportunities for ecological accidents.

If the United States doesn’t step up and do the drilling, China will. So the biggest question pro-environmentalist groups should be asking themselves is, do we really want China to be drilling for oil when they don’t have any regulations at all?

In my opinion, it would be much better for the environment if America did the drilling, rather than China.

There is also good news for those who feel the arguments for drilling aren’t worth risking the ecosystem. Oil and gas development will take at least a decade before we see any of the effects. If the president was serious about wanting oil, he would have opened up more oil fields in Alaska.

According to Rep. Jim Moran, “Oil and gas development off Virginia’s coast will be a long and drawn-out process whose results will not be known for close to a decade.”

Obama’s political maneuver is designed to attract attention to a climate change bill going through Congress right now. Even if Virginia does develop an oil and natural gas industry, it will only be enough to temporarily sustain the United States.

If we do develop energy resources, it will be a predominately good thing for Virginia and for the country. However, it’s unlikely to happen. Environmentalist groups have little to worry about.


  1. TCamp

    The sources used in this article are:
    Bob McDonnell, who campaigned on said drilling. His estimated new job and money figures were reported in the Washington Post alongside an environmental group’s figures, which are very different (although the truth probably lies somewhere in between). Here’s the article.


    Will Sessoms, who is a republican and seems to be a friend of big business, judging by his experience with banking and his voting record as mayor (and vice mayor) of Va. Beach.

    The comments about China expanding, and needing oil are valid, but as this article states, if we were really that serious about oil, we’d be drilling in Alaska. The oil and natural gas that has been verified as being off Virginia’s coast is not really a whole lot of anything (also according to the Post). There might be more, but nobody really seems to know for sure, so…maybe we should check that first?

    Regardless, the thing that makes the least sense is that…if we were to start drilling off of Virginia’s coast tomorrow, the only benefit would be in jobs. Congress would have to vote to allow any royalties to come back to the state, and I really doubt that happening during our country’s current economic troubles. This is just Bob McDonnell trying to look like he’s doing something, when really, besides supporting the idea, what can he do? Most of the power is the Federal Government’s now. There are better ways to create jobs in Virginia than drilling for a couple drips of oil, and McDonnell ought to work on those instead of getting legislation passed that might, maybe, perhaps, if the government is nice enough to us, get our state money.