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GOP Governors Want More Say in Offshore Drilling

Four Republican governors whose coastal areas hold some of the biggest domestic offshore reserves -- Texas, Louisiana, Alaska and Mississippi -- are urging other coastal governors to join a coalition to ensure that they can play a bigger role in future decisions about oil and gas development.

The Outer Continental Shelf Governors Coalition was launched on the first day of the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

The four governors in the past have criticized President Obama's energy policies and accused the Interior Department of moving too slowly to approve new drilling projects to allow operators to return to work in the Gulf of Mexico after last year's massive oil spill.

To encourage other state leaders to join them, the foursome sent a letter to other governors who run coastal states along the Pacific and Atlantic.

"Over the last several decades, advances in offshore oil and gas production technologies coupled with effective policies adopted by both state governments and the federal government have enabled the oil and gas industry to create hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs," the letter stated. "Additional jobs in every sector of our economy -- manufacturing, agriculture, chemicals, steel, transportation -- are also directly tied to our ability to secure affordable and reliable transportation fuels and natural gas supplies."

Today, they wrote, "all federal decisions regarding exploration and production must be made in consultation with affected states. In recent months, however, the federal government has taken sweeping actions regarding offshore oil and gas activities with little consultation with the states. Unfortunately, many of these federal actions have been in conflict with our states' and citizens' interests."

The new coalition, they said, would work to "foster an appropriate dialogue between the coastal states and the administration and ensure that future actions are done with adequate state input."

Houston-based Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), an advocacy group whose members include major energy producers and energy consumers, praised the coalition's formation.

"CEA applauds the collaboration of these governors in promoting an open dialogue about the need to and realities of producing American energy offshore, not only for their individual states, but for the entire nation," said CEA President David Holt.

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