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Energy on land should be more aggressively pursued

After President Obama announced his decision today to temporarily suspend off-shore energy exploration, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch urged the Administration to look at abundant energy resources throughout the West and to overturn a decision by the Department of Interior to withdraw critical leases that would have allowed access to these resources on federal lands.

"Nobody questions the need to shut down and re-evaluate the specific type of drilling activity that led to this disaster. We now know that our regulators have not ensured the safety of this type of ultra deep-water oil production," said Hatch. "But I fear the President is laying the foundation for our nation's next energy crisis, higher fuel prices and a greater dependence on foreign oil. There are other domestic sources of energy that this Administration should consider to fill this void, including resources on public lands throughout the West. Given the stakes, I urge the Administration to reconsider its decision to withdraw critical energy leases and add red tape to energy production in the Mountain West, including my state of Utah that could help fuel our nation and provide much-needed jobs."

Hatch strongly opposed a decision by the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to withdraw energy leases that had already been auctioned off and paid for to develop energy resources on federal lands. The Interior Department oversees more than 42 percent of the state of Utah, including much of the land where domestic energy production is pursued.

"The Administration's decisions to withdraw these leases and to complicate the regulatory process have been very harmful," continued Hatch. "Energy companies are leaving our federal lands in droves seeking a less hostile regulatory environment on private, state and foreign owned lands. This decision is costing my state some of the best jobs in the West, and critical revenue with the sale of these leases."

A recent survey by the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States (IPAMS) showed that in the absence of federal constraints, energy companies would be investing an additional $2.8 billion in the Rocky Mountain region.

"President Obama has pursued proposal after proposal to shut down our nation's best sources of domestic affordable energy. This Administration has created a hostile atmosphere for energy development on federal lands in the Intermountain West," concluded Hatch. "When the global economy begins its recovery, the United States will immediately run up against the constraints on domestic oil production that are being put into place now."

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