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House committee backs oil, gas bill

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WASHINGTON — A House committee endorsed Wednesday a bill by Rep. Chris Cannon that he says could lead to development of more oil and gas in the West — and possibly cheaper prices.

The House Resources Committee passed a bill Cannon, R-Utah, designed to amend the Combined Hydrocarbon Leasing Act of 1981.

Cannon said a problem with that law is it does not allow use of modern technology to extract oil and natural gas from tar sands without removing those sands, which he said requires expensive open-pit mining.

Because of that, he said, only one lease has ever been issued under the act.

Cannon's bill would allow the development of oil and natural gas separately from the tar sand.

"In Utah we have vast supplies of resources that are not tapped because the current law prohibits companies from using modern technology to extract gas and oil without also extracting the tar sand," Cannon said.

"With this modification of the law, we will be able to develop our natural gas and oil resources in a way that would help lead to lower costs for consumers as well," he said.

The bill now goes to the full House.