Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, led lawmakers from western states in introducing legislation to boost production of oil on federal lands, a day after Democrats blocked legislation to raise offshore output.
Barrasso’s bill, which would require the Obama administration to set production goals and speed the sale of leases, was offered after gasoline prices increased 37 percent in the past year.
“Higher energy costs continue to make it harder for families across the country to make ends meet,” Barrasso said today in a statement. “This legislation will help bring down the cost of gas and give American energy producers the certainty they need.”
While the Republican-led House of Representatives this month passed legislation to open for drilling areas along the Atlantic, Southern California and Alaska coasts, a similar bill fell 18 votes short in the Senate yesterday. Democrats blocked action, saying the measure ignored lessons from the 2010 BP Plc offshore oil spill.
Onshore federal lands may hold 31 billion barrels of oil and 231 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and stretch over 279 million acres, roughly the size of Texas and California combined, according to an Interior Department estimate.
Today’s bill, co-sponsored by Senators Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Mike Lee from Utah, requires the Interior Department to hold an oil shale lease sale within 180 days.