Republicans Join Trade Groups in Faulting U.S. Tar-Sands Plan

Republicans in Congress joined business and industry groups in criticizing an Obama administration proposal they said will limit oil-shale and tar-sands development in three U.S. western states.

The U.S. Interior Department is planning a fresh study on the impact of oil production on the environment before letting companies start commercial-scale operations on federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, according to a statement today. The agency is seeking comment on its proposal.

“The Obama administration has a plan to lock-up U.S. energy resources and send jobs overseas,” Representative Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican and chairman of House Natural Resources Committee, said today in a statement. “Republicans have a plan to expand access to American energy resources, grow our economy, and put people back to work.”

Hastings committee this week approved a bill directing Interior to hold at least five oil-shale lease sales by the end of 2015. President Barack Obama’s administration and Democrats, who opposed Hastings’ bill, said research is needed to determine whether oil-shale production has any impact on groundwater and surface-water systems.

“Fully understanding the demands of oil-shale development on Colorado’s water and local communities is essential to ensuring responsible development,” Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, said today in a statement on his website, praising the department’s decision.

Groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobbying group, and the Washington-based American Petroleum Institute, said the proposal will trim development on public lands.

‘Saying ‘No’’

“The administration is again saying ‘no’ to more energy production and ‘no’ to more jobs,” Karen Harbert, who heads the energy unit of the Washington-based Chamber of Commerce, said in an e-mailed statement. “This proposal will dramatically decrease the amount of public lands available for energy development.”

The Green River formation in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming is the world’s largest oil-shale deposit, according to the department’s statement.

Oil-shale deposits are fine-grained, sedimentary rocks that hold solid bituminous materials called kerogen, and are different from shale oil, according to the agency’s statement.

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