The House passed a bill that would open more offshore areas on the U.S. continental shelf to oil and natural gas exploration.
U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., the bill's sponsor and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, claimed domestic oil and gas production could slow to a trickle because of anti-energy actions by U.S. President Barack Obama.
"This action will help lower prices by signaling to the world markets that America is serious about producing more energy," he said in a statement.
The bill targets areas in the United States that the sponsors say hold as much as 2.5 billion barrels of oil or 7.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The bill says at least half of the fields in the U.S. continental shelf must become available for exploration. Under the plan, the bill's sponsors said domestic energy production would triple, diminishing the reliance on foreign energy reserves.
The measure passed on a vote of 243-to-179 largely along party lines.
Critics said caution is needed in the wake of last year's deadly oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The bill is unlikely to pass through the Democratic-controlled Senate.
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