WASHINGTON Jan 21 U.S. President Barack Obama
may order a hold on a proposal issued in the final days of the
Bush administration to expand offshore drilling in previously
banned areas, an Interior Department official told Reuters on
Shortly after being sworn in on Tuesday, Obama ordered all
federal agencies and departments to halt pending regulations
until they can be reviewed by incoming staff.
An Interior official said the department is waiting for
clarification from the White House on whether a proposed draft
of a five-year plan to lease areas in the Atlantic and Pacific
waters for oil and natural gas drilling can go forward.
The preliminary plan would authorize 31 energy exploration
lease sales between 2010 and 2015 for tracts along the east
coast and off the coasts of Alaska and California.
Both presidential and congressional bans on drilling in
most U.S. waters ended last year.
Separately, the Interior official said the department's
plan to develop oil shale fields in the western United States
may also be stopped by Obama's order.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe and Tom Doggett)