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Offshore Drilling Supporters Make Waves At Hearing

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This morning's House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the offshore drilling oversight bureau's budget request got off to a testy start when chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) attacked the Interior Department.

Hastings, a big supporter of increased offshore drilling, slammed DOI's recent report, which found that more than two-thirds of offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico and more than half of onshore leases on federal lands “sit idle.” Issued yesterday, the report undercut the arguments of some drilling proponents, who have criticized the Interior for delays in issuing new offshore-drilling permits.

In his prepared remarks, Hastings shot back that the department "flat-out invents" the definition of "inactive" as a way to defend the administration's policies (such as the recent moratorium on offshore drilling) in the wake of rising gas prices.

Later, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) director Michael Bromwich pushed for more funding, saying his agency is a "starved stepchild" deprived of the resources it needs to conduct proper oversight of offshore drilling.

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