Reeves Eyes Offshore Drilling in 2014

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As lawmakers prepare to return to Richmond next month, Republican State Senator Bryce Reeves has his sights set on a few big ideas, including a plan to move the state closer to drilling off Virginia’s coast.

“How do we create jobs? What do we have that we can really utilize, but do it safely,” Reeves said.

Reeves, who represents parts of Albemarle, Orange and Louisa counties, says he recently traveled to Louisiana to see what led up to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. He thinks Virginia can protect itself from similar disasters if it proceeds with caution.

“I think it can be done safely,” Reeves said. “I think it will bring a lot of jobs to Virginia.”

When the legislature reconvenes in Richmond January 8, Reeves will propose a bill to help set up offshore energy exploration. The bill, which features a $50 million emergency management fund, would help guide the commonwealth if the federal moratorium on drilling is lifted. Virginia’s Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine support lifting the moratorium, and proposed legislation earlier this year to start the process so Virginia could begin exploration and lease sales in 2020.

Their proposal would split gas and oil royalties 50/50 with the federal government, with portions of Virginia’s share going toward conservation efforts.

“It’s a question of how we make America more energy-independent and have a more diversified mix of energy sources in America,” Warner said in a message to constituents in May.

Reeves’ other priorities in 2014 include a bipartisan effort to combat human trafficking in Virginia, cosponsoring a bill with Democratic Senator Adam Ebbin. Deeds will also cosponsor legislation to fight illegal cigarette smuggling with Democratic Senator Janet Howell. The Army veteran is also a member of a special group helping Virginia prepare for new cuts to defense spending and forthcoming military base closures.

“I think what you’re going to find is a comprehensive report that is going to best position Virginia to brace for sequestration, continued sequestration, and BRAC (base realignment and closure) 2015,” Reeves said.

The Commission on Military Installations and Defense Activities is expected to release its report to the governor next year.

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