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Obama admin locks up 1.6M acres from oil development

Republicans criticize the plan for limiting exploration that would further lead to energy independence.

The Obama administration announced Friday it will put a large swath of western lands –1.6 million acres — off limits to oil shale and oil sands leases that hold the potential to develop more than a trillion barrels of oil.

The plan still allows for the development of nearly 700,000 acres in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, but one key House Republican criticized the plan for limiting exploration that would further lead to energy independence.

‚??Allowing safe and responsible energy development on federal lands is a critical step toward reducing our dependence on Middle East oil, but rather than embrace our country‚??s resources, the president is designating even more federal areas as off-limits,‚?Ě said Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on energy and power.

‚??This is after we saw oil production on federal lands decline by an average of 275,000 barrels per day in fiscal year 2011. While other countries like Canada are busy growing their economy by developing their own resources, this administration is busy promoting policies that embargo our own oil from ourselves,‚?Ě Whitfield said.

Helen Hankins, director of the Colorado Bureau of Land Management, said the government is committed to encouraging research and development, but that ‚??technological and economic conditions have not combined to support a sustained commercial oil shale industry.‚?Ě

‚??This plan lays a strong foundation to explore oil shale‚??s potential,‚?Ě Hankins said.

Written By

Audrey Hudson is an award-winning investigative journalist whose enterprise reporting has sparked numerous congressional investigations that led to laws signed by Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. She won the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi award for Public Service in 2009 for her report on dangerous drug experiments by the federal government on war veterans, which prompted internal investigations and needed reforms within the Veterans Affairs Department. The report also captured first place for investigative reporting by the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a finalist of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences Webby Awards for news and politics. Her breaking stories have been picked up and followed by major news publications and periodicals, including Readers Digest, Washington Monthly, and The Weekly Standard, as well as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Washington Post. With nearly 20 years of experience in Washington as a newspaper reporter and as a Capitol Hill staffer for Western lawmakers, she will now lead Human Events‚?? coverage of energy and environmental issues. A native of Kentucky, Mrs. Hudson has worked inside the Beltway for nearly two decades -- on Capitol Hill as a Senate and House spokeswoman, and most recently at The Washington Times covering Congress, Homeland Security, and the Supreme Court. Audrey‚??s email is AHudson@EaglePub.Co

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