The Campaign Spot

Will Offshore Drilling Be a Big Issue in Virginia’s Governor’s Race?

An issue to keep an eye on in Virginia’s gubernatorial race this year: offshore natural-gas drilling.

Rules banning drilling off the Atlantic shore for natural gas and oil have expired, but the Department of the Interior has to set out a process to approve new projects. Gov. Tim Kaine is telling Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to take his time laying out that process.

Republican candidate and former Attorney General Bob McDonnell wants drilling to begin as quickly as possible. He challenged his Democratic opponents to join him; none did.

McDonnell is open to both oil and gas drilling; Terry McAuliffe was quick to emphasize he opposed oil drilling (as does the state legislature). Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds indicated they oppose all drilling.

Last year, Sen. Jim Webb indicated he supports natural-gas drilling off Virginia’s shores.

UPDATE: Notice these poll numbers in this recent statement by the president of the American Petroleum Institute:

Americans support expanded development of our domestic resources. Even as oil and gasoline prices have plummeted in recent months, 61 percent say they want to see development of our resources in off-limits federal waters. A full 70 percent of Virginians in a July poll supported increased offshore development. It is time to start listening to the wisdom of the American people and stop putting off until tomorrow what we should be doing today.”

Of course, last July was near the peak of gas prices. But how much could that number have dropped since then?

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