WASHINGTON, July 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Interior Department has "veered far off course" in terms of its management of oil and natural gas resources, a House committee chairman said.
U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell testified before the House Natural Resources committee on federal regulation of reserve areas in the United States.
Jewell said Wednesday oil production from federal onshore lands was at its highest level in more than a decade.
Advances in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have exposed oil and natural gas reserves previously out of reach of energy explorers. This method helped the United States rival natural gas-rich Russia and oil-rich Saudi Arabia in terms of overall production.
In terms of offshore work, Jewell said there are more drilling rigs working in the Gulf of Mexico than were in service before the BP oil spill in 2010.
"In my opinion, the direction of the Interior Department has veered far off course and clear, troubling patterns have emerged that I believe need to be fixed," he testified.
Critics of President Obama's energy policies say he's blocking access to land that could be opened to energy explorers.