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Safety first for U.S. offshore drilling

May 18, 2011 at 9:31 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, May 18 (UPI) -- Safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production is part of Washington's plan to protect consumers from high energy prices, the interior secretary said.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said U.S. President Barack Obama was working on a number of ways to advance safe and timely domestic oil and gas production.

"The administration is committed to promoting safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production as part of a broad energy strategy that will protect consumers and reduce our dependence on foreign oil," he said in testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

"Rising gas prices are putting an added strain on American families and, while there are no quick fixes to the problem, there are steps that we can take to secure America's energy future."

His testimony came as U.S. lawmakers wrangled over offshore oil and gas production and tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.

Congressional Republican leaders want to see Salazar's department speed up the process for offshore drilling permits.

Democratic leaders in the Senate, meanwhile, complain profits from oil companies are so big that they can afford to give up lucrative tax breaks.

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