GOP seeks to undercut White House on gas well approvals

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), in a statement, said the project should have been approved long ago, alleging that Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency have dithered despite unemployment and a weak economy.

“It is sad that what should be a minor Record of Decision for one project in Utah instead becomes a signature achievement of this Administration — especially given their long record of blocking energy development,” he said.

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) offered some faint praise, calling it "good news for Utah" that "undoubtedly provides a glimmer of hope that all is not lost with this Administration’s policies on public land use."

But he also said the administration has thwarted development in his state, and used the occasion to bash Interior’s proposal last week to impose new regulations on the oil-and-gas extraction method called hydraulic fracturing. Bishop said they are “onerous” and will impede development of projects including the Anadarko drilling.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) praised the jobs and energy the project will bring, but stopped well short of applauding the Obama administration.

“Utahns have gotten used to the Obama Administration closing off federal lands to domestic energy production, so this announcement is a long time coming,” he said Monday evening ahead of Interior’s Tuesday press conference.

Salazar called the approval the result of a collaborative process — including state and tribal officials, green groups and others — and said it can provide a template for other development.

Officials with Anadarko, the Wilderness Society and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance took part in the rollout.

The project will support an annual average of roughly1,700 direct jobs and about 1,200 “indirect” jobs, according to Interior. The formal Record of Decision allows up to 3,675 wells in an existing gas production area in Uintah County.

“This agreement is a great example of how collaboration can allow us to uphold America’s conservation values, while bringing growth to Utah’s economy and further reducing our dependence on foreign oil by developing our resources here at home,” Salazar said.

Interior's Bureau of Land Management has more information on the project here.