Obama Administration Touts Traditional Energy Sources, Too

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"New leases are the administration's most recent push to develop traditional energy sources."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's announcement of new Wyoming coal leases Tuesday is just the most recent in an Obama administration push to promote development of traditional sources of energy such as coal, oil and natural gas.

In Cheyenne to announce the new coal leases, Salazar said the department's promotion of new coal, oil and natural gas development fits with President Barack Obama's desire for energy development that also includes renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and hydropower.

"We're moving with an agenda that gets us energy independence by making sure we have a broad energy portfolio," Salazar said.

Also Tuesday, the department approved an offshore oil drilling permit for Exxon Mobil, the fourth permit approved since the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year and the second this week.

On Monday, the department's Bureau of Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement approved the first deepwater exploration plan since the spill, approving a Shell Offshore Inc. application under strengthened environmental reviews. The bureau's head said Tuesday to expect more offshore drilling permits within the week.

On March 15, Salazar said the Bureau of Land Management would increase the number of permits to drill on public and Indian lands compared to last year. The secretary said the BLM would process more than 7,200 permits, up from more than 5,000 in 2010. Salazar also said 33 oil and gas lease sales are planned for 2011. That's the same number as 2010.

While Salazar said the president came to office pushing a "comprehensive energy agenda," Republicans have also hammered the administration lately for what they see as unnecessary stumbling blocks to domestic production—both onshore and offshore drilling—as gas prices continue to climb.

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