Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, complained lawmakers should've had a five-year leasing agenda to review by May 1. This meant that, for the first time in 40 years, there wasn't a long-term drilling plan in place, he said.
Republican critics of President Barack Obama's energy policy complain he's throwing up road blocks to domestic energy development.
"World markets are not waiting for us and if we don't plan for increased energy production now, we will surely pay for it in the future through increased dependence and higher energy prices," Hastings said in his prepared remarks.
Tommy Beaudreau, director of the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, defended the Obama administration's energy record. A lease sale in the western Gulf of Mexico in December, he said, offered more than 21 million acres for oil and natural gas exploration and development.
The Department of Interior, he said, expects to finalize its documents for 2012-2017 by the end of June, when the current five-year program expires.