FEBRUARY 6 2012 15:25h

Oil shale probe wrong policy, critics say

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A decision to investigate oil shale production in the western United States is another example of White House efforts to send more jobs overseas, a critic said.

The U.S. Interior Department last week announced plans to investigate potential environment effects of oil production on federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming before letting energy companies start commercial operations.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated in 2011 that the Green River basin in the region holds at least 1.4 trillion barrels of oil in place. Republican leaders in the House of Representatives claim that's enough to meet U.S. domestic energy demand for the next 200 years.

U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, said the Interior Department's plans were an example of President Barack Obama's plans to block domestic energy production.

"The Obama administration has a plan to lock up U.S. energy resources and send jobs overseas," said Hastings in a statement. "This unfortunately is just one more example to add to the ever-growing list of Obama administration actions that block U.S. energy production."

The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management announced plans to take "a fresh look" at leases for oil shale development because of the "experimental state" of the industrial sector dealing with those types of reserves.

"The administration is sending negative signals to industry and capital markets at exactly the wrong time," Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said in a statement.