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Bennett blames Obama for poor oil auction

SALT LAKE CITY — After the U.S. Bureau of Land Management sold just one oil lease in Utah during its quarterly auction on Tuesday, Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, howled that isn't because of a bad economy but because of "recklessness" by the Obama administration.

"(Tuesday's) record low sale is not the result of a slow economy. It is a result of the Obama administration's reckless path of more disruption and uncertainty of the already Byzantine oil and gas (lease) process," Bennett said.

"The president has been advocating job creation, yet he ignores the devastating impacts his policies have had on domestic energy production," Bennett added.

Utah politicians have been griping loudly about administration public land policies since President Barack Obama suspended the auction of 77 oil and gas leases made at the end of the George W. Bush administration for worry they may threaten national parks and other wild locations, and later imposed other restrictions or reviews to the leasing process.

The lease sale is "undoubtedly one of the smallest lease sales in Utah history, raising a red flag for the future of the industry under President Obama," Bennett said. He added that it "is another indication that this administration intends to further drive this industry into an anemic state."

Bennett said he intends to question Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about the "impacts of the department's misguided policies on job creation and federal, state and county budgets" at upcoming Senate hearings on Interior's 2011 budget.

The BLM Utah Quarterly Oil and Gas Lease Sale included only four parcels. The BLM sold only one parcel of 1,762 acres, and revenue from it totaled only $6,316, Bennett's office said.

e-mail: lee@desnews.com