WH opposes expanding offshore drill area

May 11, 2011 at 2:48 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 11 (UPI) -- The Obama administration said it opposes a U.S. House bill that would increase the area available for offshore, deep-water drilling leases.

"The administration is committed to promoting safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production as part of a broad energy strategy that will protect consumers and reduce our dependence on foreign oil," the Office of Management and Budget said Wednesday in a statement. "The administration opposes H.R. 1231, which would undermine and circumvent the transparent public process for determining which new areas are appropriate to lease."

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and has 69 co-sponsors.

The OMB said the bill would require the Interior Department to open new areas on the Outer Continental Shelf to leasing without the ability to determine which areas were appropriate and safe for exploration and development.

The White House said the legislation effectively would mandate offshore lease sales along the East Coast, offshore California and elsewhere "without providing states and local citizens the opportunity to share views about where exploration should happen."

The statement did not say whether Obama would veto the measure should it pass Congress. However, the statement noted the administration was developing a comprehensive plan for offshore oil and gas exploration and production "that incorporates lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill" in the Gulf of Mexico last year.

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