Cantor Fights Kaine Over Ruining Virginia's Shores

He’s probably still angry about the American Clean Energy and Security Act

We’ll give him one thing. Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is a man who does not easily forget.

He recently asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to include Virginia in its five-year plan for offshore oil-and-gas drilling. Even though Governor Tim Kaine (D-Va.), is against it.

Cantor’s probably still angry about the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which sets limits on greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, passed the House and is currently before the Senate.

That bill beat out the Republicans' alternative measure, which would have dramatically expanded oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

But the House Minority Whip refuses to be thwarted, even if means “looking at dead fish floating in the water.” In a letter last week to Secretary Ken Salazar, Cantor asked that Virginia be included as part of the federal government’s 2010-15 program for “Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing,” the Culpeper Star-Exponent reported.

An area must be included in the plan in order to be offered for lease sales to energy producers for exploration purposes. The draft program proposes 31 lease sales of outer continental shelf lands in areas off the coast of Alaska, the Pacific coast, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, including one off Virginia’s coast.

In February, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine asked the Department of the Interior to postpone the proposed lease sale for oil and gas exploration, which could occur as early as 2011.

Kaine argued that the state’s offshore energy policies do not support exploration for oil or production of gas or oil. Instead, he believes the state policies support federal efforts “to determine the extent of natural gas resources 50 miles or more off the Atlantic shoreline, including appropriate federal funding for such an investigation.”

But Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, said drilling for oil and gas off Virginia’s coast would create jobs and strengthen national security by lessening the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

There are supposedly nearly 4 billion barrels' worth of oil under the seabed along the entire Atlantic coast. But officials at the U.S. Minerals Management Service, which overseas offshore drilling, told The Washington Post that there has been no exploratory drilling on this coast for more than two decades.

In other words, they have no idea how much oil and gas is out there, much less the amount that might be loitering around the Virginia coastline.

Then there’s the pesky issue of whether oil and gas companies would even be interested in drilling off Virginia’s shores. Or what might happen if burning oil and gas alters the climate and causes the Eastern Shore to actually get swampier than it already is.

Not to mention what it'd be like if a major oil spill washed up on Virginia’s beaches. That could put a real damper on sunbathing and frolicking in the ocean for the day/week/year.

Kaine, meanwhile, prefers having others suffer, as well. According to the Star-Exponent, he supports considering “the Atlantic coast as a whole, rather than singling out a particular state for a lease sale.” 

Maybe we'll just bike to work from now on...

Contact Us