Thursday, November 21, 2013
The House approved two bills Wednesday aimed at speeding up drilling for oil and natural gas on public lands.
The measures were among three energy bills the House is considering this week as Republicans who control the chamber push to expand an oil and gas boom that’s lowered prices and led the U.S. to produce more oil last month than it imported from abroad.
One of the bills approved Wednesday would set strict deadlines for federal approval of oil and gas permits and expand areas open to production. Another would restrict the Interior Department from enforcing proposed rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on public lands.
A third bill, set for approval today, would streamline permitting for natural-gas pipelines.
Supporters say the bills are needed to ensure that a drilling boom taking place on state and private lands extends to millions of acres, mostly in the West, under federal control.
President Barack Obama has promised to veto the bills, saying they are unnecessary and run counter to protections put in place for oil and gas drilling.
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., who sponsored the bill to speed up permitting, said the energy boom has mainly occurred on state and private lands, including the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Montana and the Marcellus Shale region centered in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.