Energy production banned in half of petroleum reserve

The Obama administration on Thursday finalized plans to lock up from energy production half of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska ??? a tract of land the size of Indiana set aside by Congress 90 years ago to assure a domestic supply of oil.

Of the 23 million acres in reserve on Alaska???s north slope, energy production will be allowed on an nearly 12 million acres believed to hold 549 million barrels of oil ??? a small percentage of what the U.S. Geological Survey estimates the entire reserve holds — nearly three billion barrels of recoverable oil.

The decision to significantly curtail energy development in the reserve was signed today by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and comes as gasoline prices continue to increase for the 34th day in a row.

???Only in President Obama???s backwards worldview of anti-energy policies does it make sense to prohibit energy production in a place specifically set aside for energy production at a time when gasoline prices are skyrocketing and federal oil and natural gas production is declining,??? said Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Salazar???s plan will allow pipeline access through the reserve to carry oil drilled offshore in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

However, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) said the approved routes do not look economically feasible to connect offshore drilling to the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline.

???The Department of Interior has once again caved to environmental special interest groups, and unfortunately today???s finalized plan will do nothing but further restrict potential oil and gas development in a petroleum reserve established to ensure America???s energy security,??? Young said.