Obama Energy Plan Would Reduce Oil Imports President Obama is calling for reducing oil imports by a third over the next decade. Environmental groups have long complained the oil industry isn't developing leases that it already holds on public land and offshore.
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Obama Energy Plan Would Reduce Oil Imports

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Obama Energy Plan Would Reduce Oil Imports

Obama Energy Plan Would Reduce Oil Imports

Obama Energy Plan Would Reduce Oil Imports

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President Obama is calling for reducing oil imports by a third over the next decade. Environmental groups have long complained the oil industry isn't developing leases that it already holds on public land and offshore.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

NPR's Jeff Brady reports that some details of the plan are making environmental groups happy and energy companies a little less so.

JEFF BRADY: These few sentences of President Obama's energy policy speech yesterday probably sounded familiar to environmentalists.

BARACK OBAMA: Right now the industry holds tens of millions of acres of leases where they're not producing a single drop. They're just sitting on supplies of American energy that are ready to be tapped.

BRADY: The president says his administration will create new rules encouraging companies to drill quicker. Environmentalists don't want more drilling, but they argue oil companies should drill the land they have under lease before they're allowed to lease more. Few have made this argument as colorfully as Erik Molvar of the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance in Laramie, Wyoming.

ERIK MOLVAR: The oil and gas industry is sprawled all over Wyoming's public lands like a grizzly bear sprawled all over a carcass.

BRADY: Molvar says so much public land has been leased to oil companies in his state that it's getting difficult for wildlife to coexist. But it pleased him to hear that President Obama was talking about this issue. As you might expect, the oil industry, not so pleased.

KEN COHEN: I think it says more about the quality of the acreage that's under lease than it says about anything else.

BRADY: Ken Cohen is vice president of public and government affairs for Exxon Mobil.

COHEN: I'll be blunt. It says that the government needs to put more attractive properties up for lease to the industry.

BRADY: Marilyn Heiman is with the Pew Environment Group.

MARILYN HEIMAN: He is hitting the right balance. He's saying we will have oil development, it is clear, it's part of our energy future, but we will also have alternative energy and we will make sure that we conserve the oil that we do have.

BRADY: Mr. Obama's speech contained good news for a few industries. Manning Feraci is with the National Biodiesel Board.

MANNING FERACI: The president alluded to the importance of biofuels and advanced biofuels and the important role that's going to play in ultimately achieving the larger goal of reducing the country's reliance on foreign oil.

BRADY: Jeff Brady, NPR News.

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