Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is now lobbying for more Atlantic acreage. In early February, McDonnell petitioned the US Department of the Interior with a letter in which he promoted drilling as a way to aid economic recovery and generate billions of dollars for the state. This move was a show of sincerity, following the governor’s pledge at his swearing-in in January 2010 to make Virginia the “energy capital of the East Coast.” This week, McDonnell has begun lobbying for an expansion of the 2.9 million offshore acres the government has designated for possible oil and gas exploration. According to an Associated Press (AP) article, McDonnell is proposing that the offshore leasing map 50 miles off Virginia’s coast be redrawn to “better reflect the state’s coast.” This re-mapping would give Virginia considerably more energy reserves that the article says, “ultimately could mean a bonanza for the state in royalty payments.” Of course, if Gov. McDonnell continues to hit a stone wall in Washington, no maps of any kind will make a difference. First, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has to allow East Coast oil and gas exploration for the first time, starting with Virginia. He is expected to announce that decision soon, but nobody is very optimistic about getting a positive answer. McDonnell seems not to notice the obstacles in the way. Despite them, he's sticking to his goal. You have to hand it to him for tenacity. He has petitioned the Department of the Interior, has rallied his colleagues (who are Democrats) to support his plan, and has included them in his letter-writing campaign. He clearly is committed to getting Virginia at the head of the line when it comes to opening up new offshore acreage for E&P. Right now, there is a line of one. And without a positive decision (which is not terribly likely), there will be no line at all. Regardless, McDonnell continues to stand in the vanguard, such as it is, and to stand his ground. There have been no seismic studies of Virginia’s offshore in decades, so it’s anybody’s guess how much oil and gas is out there. Though data are lacking, McDonnell is convinced the reserves are there. According to the AP article, he maintains his goal of making Virginia the East Coast energy capital is realistic. His big problem is moving government to allow exploration work to begin. Even as he is fighting for access, Gov. McDonnell is contending with critics within Virginia. Environmentalists are urging him to focus on renewables like offshore wind energy. According to AP, in response, McDonnell says renewables are part of his plan to create an energy epicenter in Virginia. Against all odds, McDonnell is fighting to change the mindset of not only nay-sayers in his state, but bureaucrats in Washington who want to hinder oil and gas E&P activities, not facilitate them. I don’t know McDonnell, but I like his guts and his fortitude, and I wish him well. Despite the odds against, my money is on McDonnell. After all, it’s an American tradition to back the underdog, and McDonnell is clearly a long shot.