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House leader wants more oil, gas drilling

June 4, 2013 at 7:55 AM

WASHINGTON, June 4 (UPI) -- Legislation proposed in the House of Representatives would require the U.S. government to issue a new offshore lease plan, a committee chairman said.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., released a draft proposal for the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act that would require the federal government to issue a new five-year offshore lease plan.

Hastings said his "pro-energy, pro-jobs" legislation would compensate for what he said were efforts by President Obama to block offshore oil and natural gas production.

"The Obama administration has said 'no' to new energy and 'no' to new jobs, but House Republicans are once again saying 'yes,'" he said in a statement last week.

The Interior Department says domestic oil production has increased every year since Obama took office in 2009. Obama's critics say much of that increase is because of policies enacted by the Bush administration.

The government said acreage awarded in a March auction could generate as much as 890 million barrels of oil and as much as 3.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Another auction is scheduled for August.

Hastings measure in part targets areas offshore Virginia, currently off limits to energy companies.

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