On Tuesday, Democrats in the Senate of Virginia rejected two Republican proposals to create a special fund for revenue derived from the potential offshore development of energy resources and dedicate a significant portion of these revenues to highway construction and maintenance in Virginia.
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling responds, “By rejecting this commonsense legislation, Senate Democrats have dealt a double blow to the people of Virginia. First, they have shown that they are unwilling to move forward with the development of significant domestic energy sources to help reduce our dependency on foreign sources of energy. Second, they have shown that they are unwilling to address Virginia’s transportation needs through the use of existing revenue sources or future revenue sources, insisting instead that the only way to address Virginia’s transportation needs is through new and higher taxes. They are wrong on both counts.”
SB6011, as introduced by Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach), would have created the Virginia Offshore Energy Revenue Fund and directed that any royalties and other moneys paid by the federal government as a result of the development of offshore energy resources be deposited in the Fund. Forty percent of all money transferred to the Fund would have been allocated to the Transportation Trust Fund and used to address highway maintenance and construction needs in Virginia. An additional 40 percent would have been used to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and other impaired waters.
Similar legislation, introduced by Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax) would have transferred 100 percent of all royalty payments related to offshore energy development to the Transportation Trust Fund. Under the terms of SB 6005, which was also rejected by Senate Democrats, the Commonwealth would have petitioned the federal government for authorization to conduct natural gas exploration and drilling activities in the coastal zones of the.
Bolling says, “One of the most important issues facing our country today is the development of additional domestic energy sources. Likewise, one of the most important issues facing our state is the need to secure additional resources for highway construction and maintenance. By rejecting this legislation, Senate Democrats have turned a deaf ear to each of these issues and shown once again how out of touch they are with the people of Virginia.”