House Panel Passes Gas Exploration Bill

Monday, February 13, 2006
A proposed state energy bill that supports oil and natural gas exploration off the Virginia coast was approved by a House subcommittee, lending more momentum to advocates seeking to lift an offshore drilling ban. The U.S. Department of the Interior targeted Virginia because of its willingness to entertain renewed offshore activity. Most other coastal states, including North Carolina, have said they want to leave the moratorium in place, imposed in 1990 because of environmental concerns. Anti-drilling lobbying groups said the proposal is all about leverage and that the oil industry of using Virginia to break the coastwide moratorium so that richer reserves off New England and North Carolina’s Outer Banks might be accessible. The state energy bill, sponsored by Sen. Frank W. Wagner , R-Virginia Beach, and Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter , R-Prince William, so far has moved easily through the House and Senate with only minor changes. After being approved 5-0 by a House subcommittee, it will be considered by the House and Senate finance committee. If the bill passes there, it will move to floor debate and votes. (Source: The Virginian Pilot)

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