The Interior Department on Friday issued a final plan to close 1.6 million acres of federal land in the West originally slated for oil shale development.
The proposed plan would fence off a majority of the initial blueprint laid out in the final days of the George W. Bush administration.
The administration and Democrats said that the plan would curtail what was originally sought for oil shale development.
The move is sure to rankle Republicans, who say President Obama’s grip on fossil fuel drilling in federal lands is too tight.
Interior’s Bureau of Land Management cited environmental concerns for the proposed changes. Among other things, it excised lands with “wilderness characteristics” and areas that conflicted with sage grouse habitats.
GOP lawmakers, along with some Democrats, have pushed for more fossil fuel production in the West. Republicans have led the charge, saying Obama’s policies on fossil fuel drilling on federal lands are too restrictive.
“This proposal will place further limitations on the exploration and development of our country’s natural resources and is yet another example of how this administration continues to stand in the way of North American energy independence," Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), the chairman of House Energy and Commerce's subcommittee on Energy and Power, said in a statement to The Hill.
Oil and gas lobby the American Petroleum Institute, an ally of congressional Republicans, slammed the decision.
Jack Gerard, the group's chief, said Thursday he would take a "wait-and-see" approach to Obama's second term to gauge whether he would live up to campaign rhetoric in which he praised the domestic oil-and-gas industry.
Reid Porter, the lobby's spokesman, said Friday's news was a disappointing sign from the administration.
“This is another step in the wrong direction that limits development and investment in one of the nation’s most energy-rich areas and goes against a prior government decision that would allow for research and development over a much wider geographical area. Just days after the election this decision by the administration sends negative signals to industry and capital markets at a time when we need to encourage growth and innovation in the U.S.," Porter said in a statement to The Hill.Read ore Here: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/267095-interior-proposes-shielding-federal-lands-in-west-from-drilling