House panel votes to trump Obama???s limited drilling plan

House Republicans on Wednesday voted to significantly expand President Barack Obama???s plan for a limited number of lease sales to develop new sources of energy on the outer continental shelf.

The House Natural Resources Committee passed legislation on a 24 to 17 vote to replace the proposal announced by the administration on June 28 that allowed only 15 sales, with a new plan to grant nearly 30 sales.

???President Obama???s proposed plan would place 85 percent of America???s offshore areas off-limits to energy production,??? said Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the committee.

If unchallenged, the president???s plan would force ???a giant step backwards for American energy production and a giant lost opportunity to create over a million new American jobs,??? Hastings said.

The five-year replacement plan would authorize sales around Alaska, the mid and north Atlantic, and off the coast of Southern California.

The plan specifically provides for opening offshore Virginia to drilling next year, counteracting a lease sale Obama cancelled last year.

???President Obama likes to give speeches claiming support for expanding American energy production, including oil and natural gas drilling, but as I???ve repeatedly stated, the president???s actions are 180 degrees opposite of his words,??? Hastings said. ???The president???s policies don???t match his rhetoric, and we hear a lot of rhetoric.???

The 15 sales allowed by Obama is the lowest ever offered by a president going back to former President Jimmy Carter when the process began in 1980, according to a report released this week by the Congressional Research Service.

The ???Congressional Replacement of President Obama???s Energy-Restricting and Job-Limiting Offshore Drilling??? bill authored by Hastings now moves to the full House for a vote.