Western lawmakers question federal leasing reform
DENVER — Senators from Utah and Wyoming are questioning whether federal oil and gas leasing reforms are being used to block energy development in the West.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah sent a letter Monday to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to seek clarification of a process for leasing federal lands. The letter says the master leasing plan process adds unnecessary layers to an already thorough and public process.
Others who signed the letter are Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Wyoming Sens. Michael Enzi and John Barrasso, Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota and Rep. Bob Bishop of Utah.
Environmentalists and Mike Dombeck, former head of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, say the reforms allow for responsible energy development on public lands without sacrificing wildlife habitat, air and water quality.