Bush Administration Seeks to Increase Drilling In Rockies

Federal land managers throughout the Rocky Mountain region must look for ways to remove or relax environmental restrictions on oil and gas drilling on federal lands, according to a Bush administration mandate issued yesterday. In the mandate, the Bureau of Land Management calls on its regional officials to accelerate energy projects; review environmental rules with an eye toward streamlining them; stick to bare-bones environmental restoration efforts; and maintain close communications with extractive industries. It marks the latest and most decisive step in the administration’s effort to promote drilling in the Rockies, and stems from a January report finding that 25 percent of oil and gas reserves in five western basins was partially off-limits to drilling (compared to 63 percent that is entirely available and 12 percent that is entirely off-limits). The current drilling push is an effort to free up as much of the partially restricted oil and gas as possible.