Virginia Republicans Back Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration, With Some Reservations

RadioIQ | Matt Laslo | May 14, 2019

The Trump administration has sent conflicting messages on its plan for oil and gas drilling off Virginia’s coast. But it now seems to be moving ahead with plans to explore the reserves sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic.

That’s music to the ears of the state’s four Republicans in Congress.

Earlier this spring a federal judge shot down President Trump’s plan to expand offshore oil and gas drilling off the east coast. Then the Interior secretary signaled they were backing down and stopping exploration plans before he reversed himself and said they’re moving forward with laying out their five-year plan to drill off the East Coast.

“I am in support of it, if it can be done safely,” says Ben Cline, a freshman Republican who represents Roanoke, Lynchburg and the Shenandoah Valley.

Cline was down in the Gulf of Mexico last month touring the offshore industry there. He says he “learned how safe it is and how many improvements have been made. So I am convinced that it can be done safely, and I’m hoping we can continue to pursue it.”

Cline is joined by the Commonwealth’s only other freshman Republican, Denver Riggleman, in supporting offshore drilling. And the state’s other two Republicans in Washington are on board too.

Southwest Virginia Congressman Morgan Griffith says he doesn’t have a problem with it. “Just like I don’t have a problem with offshore wind or offshore wave action. I mean, for Virginia, you have to make sure you’re not disrupting the military lanes, you have to make sure you’ve got your safety equipment in – state of the art stuff. But in theory, I don’t have a problem with it.”

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