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Producers face few restrictions on most energy-rich federal lands in five western basins, US officials said.
"At the leasing stage, 60% of the oil and gas resources are available at a least-restrictive or nonrestrictive basis," said Department of the Interior Asst. Sec. for Land and Minerals Management Rebecca Watson. She called the results "somewhat unexpected," given earlier Bush administration assertions that as much as 40% of the natural gas resources on federal lands in the Rocky Mountain region is off-limits to producers.
She stressed, however, that the report's emphasis was "narrow," focusing only on leasing restrictions, and that industry looks at a "broader perspective" that often includes other constraints, such as permitting delays.
The departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Energy prepared the interagency report to comply with the provisions of the 2000 Energy Policy and Conservation Act. Congress's intent was for regulators to inventory all oil and gas reserves beneath federal lands. The resulting report examines energy resources in five major geologic basins in the onshore Lower 48 West and includes lands managed by …