Target: Terry McAuliffe, Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate of Virginia
Goal: Condemn plans to drill off Virginia’s coast and demand responsible, sustainable development of energy resources
Democratic U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both of Virginia, recently sponsored legislation to explore oil and gas resources off Virginia’s coast. As reported by ThinkProgress and the Washington Post last week, Virginia’s Democratic candidate for governor, Terry McAuliffe, appears to support this legislation. After years of consistent partisan division over this issue in Virginia, the Democratic leadership of the Commonwealth appears to be falling in lockstep with its Republican counterpart on this critical environmental issue.
Successful development of Virginia’s offshore energy resources will generate substantial funds, many of which are deliberately earmarked for the state government per the Warner-Kaine bill. The risks associated with developing oil and gas reserves, however, remain elusive in public debates. The rich ecological character of coastal Virginia includes miles of marshland along the Atlantic shore and the vast network of Chesapeake Bay tributaries. These waterways provide some of the nation’s largest fisheries, as well as the basis for a $20 billion per year tourism industry in the Commonwealth.
Other Virginia leaders are concerned about the potential impacts of drilling on Virginia’s enormous military and Department of Defense (DoD) presence. In Norfolk and Virginia Beach, the major cities anchoring the southern end of the Chesapeake, Naval training operations in the region may be disrupted by oil and gas development. The DoD itself notes that 74% of the areas under consideration “would directly interfere” with their activities.
The risks of unfettered oil and natural gas development near the fragile ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay region vastly outweigh the benefits for Virginians, for local fisheries and tourism – even for the region’s military operations. Demand that Terry McAuliffe return to his campaign’s original promises, including the development of potential clean, sustainable wind energy resources.
Dear Terry McAuliffe,
Developing sustainable, significant energy resources for Virginia – and the nation – remains an extremely important policy priority. The potential of Virginia’s offshore oil and gas reserves presents a large incentive for the Commonwealth during austere times. Nevertheless, the risks of developing these oil and gas fields to tourism, our cherished coastal ecosystems, and the region’s military operations cannot be overstated. Indeed, these risks outweigh the potential rewards of developing finite, dangerous fossil fuel resources.
We insist that you return to your original campaign positions on energy development in Virginia. Reaffirm your commitment to developing clean, sustainable energy resources that will not endanger Virginia’s thriving tourism industries nor its critical national security roles.
[Your Name Here]
Image Credit: gargola87 via Wikimedia