U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte has introduced legislation to reopen waters offshore Virginia for oil and gas exploration, according to the Associated Press. According to the report, the proposal requires the Department of the Interior to move ahead with a Virginia lease sale no later than one year after its passage. Governor of Virginia Robert F. McDonnell would have to request the action. McDonnell, who is a supporter of opening offshore waters, has embraced the bill, stating it would move the nation closer to energy independence. “To become the energy capital of the East Coast, Virginia must develop all of our domestic energy sources, from offshore oil and natural gas to wind, solar, coal, nuclear and biomass,” McDonnell said in a statement. On March 31 the Obama Administration had announced intentions to open East Coast waters for energy exploration. However, after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and massive oil spill that followed, lease sales offshore Virginia are currently delayed until 2017. While environmental groups are critical of oil and gas exploration offshore Virginia, the state’s government believes the area could produce 130 million bbl of oil and 1.1 Tcf of natural gas. However, according to the report the estimates are based on decades-old seismic studies and new testing needs to be conducted for accuracy. Goodlatte to the Associated Press that opening these areas to oil and gas exploration has the potential to create more than 2,500 full-time jobs and a capital investment of almost $8 billion.