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U.S. waters not just for oil, advocate says

June 7, 2013 at 8:31 AM

WASHINGTON, June 7 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers pressing for more offshore energy development are putting too much emphasis on one economic sector, the Center for American Progress said.

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources heard testimony on the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, legislation that would expand U.S. offshore energy production.

Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said the "drill-smart plan" would create millions of dollars in federal revenue and create more than 1 million jobs if passed. The measure would open up offshore areas currently off limits to oil and natural gas developers.

Michael Conathan, director of ocean policy at the Center for American Progress, testified an energy focus offshore put too much emphasis on one particular sector of the economy.

"The fact is, accelerating offshore oil and gas production in an attempt to create more jobs might be a fine idea if nothing else took place in our exclusive economic zone," he testified Thursday. "But the ocean is a busy place, and prioritizing one industry will surely come at the expense of others."

Conathan said all of the U.S. industries that depend on oceans, from tourism to fishing, need consideration.

Critics of President Obama's energy policies say he's working to inhibit energy production. The White House counters that oil and natural gas production has increased every year since Obama took office in 2009.

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