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Obama Admin Objects to Alaska Oil and Gas Development Bill


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WestVirginiaRebel
16greenwire-obama-admin-objects-to-alaska-oil-and-gas-deve-61926.html
NY Times:

The Obama administration today said a proposal from House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) to expedite oil and gas leasing and energy infrastructure permitting in an Alaska reserve could force federal regulators to flout environmental laws and includes a costly, redundant resource assessment.

Mike Pool, deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management, also announced the agency will hold lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve, known as NPR-A, in December 2011 and each year after, making good on the administration's mid-May promise to expedite development in the 23-million-acre reserve.

But he emphasized that his agency, which oversees 191 lease tracts covering 1.6 million acres, has all the tools it needs to facilitate development of oil in the reserve while balancing protections for wildlife habitat and subsistence users.

He said the bill's requirement to hold lease sales in the areas most likely to produce commercial oil and gas and set permitting deadlines could undermine the agency's public land management process, including the National Environmental Policy Act.

"Systematically over time we have been responsible to conduct and make available leasing in NPR-A," Pool said, adding that his agency has no pending backlog of rights of ways or other projects. "There's no delay in permitting and processing as it involves BLM responsibilities in NPR-A."

Another Interior official testified that there is no reason to reassess or update the U.S. Geological Survey's most recent assessment of oil and gas resources in the reserve, as called for by Hastings' bill. The most recent survey found about half a billion barrels of economically recoverable oil at prices near current levels.

"I think we have everything in place and we have demonstrated that over time," Pool said. "We currently have all the regulations and the authorities we need."
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Some would say they have more than enough...
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