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GOP wants more drilling on federal land

May 17, 2012 at 8:12 AM

WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers in the House of Representatives advanced a series of measures they say could expand U.S. onshore energy production.

Three bills passed through the House Natural Resources largely along party lines. They would make it easier for oil and natural gas companies to develop onshore renewable, oil and natural gas resources by removing what supporters say are federal hurdles.

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the White House is blocking energy production on federal lands.

"These bills contribute to a common sense all-of-the-above American energy plan that streamlines permitting, reduces timelines and promotes job creation and American energy production," Hastings said in a statement.

The bills moved through the House committee after the U.S. Department of Interior said more than two-thirds of the onshore and offshore acreage leased for oil and natural gas exploration remains idle.

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., ranking member of the House committee, said it was duplicitous to ask for more access to "taxpayer-owned land" while companies weren't drilling on the land already leased.

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