This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
The first big step has been taken toward increasing America's oil production. And Utah may end up playing a big role.
An energy bill passed in the House that includes a provision that reverses the ban on developing oil shale on lands that include Utah, Wyoming and Colorado.
Democratic leaders are crediting 2nd District Rep. Jim Matheson for pushing to get it in. He says politics aside, there are 1.8 trillion barrels of oil underground there, just waiting to be prospected.
"If you really take a step back and take a look at the perspective of this bill, this is a legitimate production bill. As I said there may be other things we need to do, and we should," Matheson said.
Utah's other two representatives, Rob Bishop and Chris Cannon, voted against the bill. Bishop says it wasn't well thought out. He told KSL's Doug Wright Show even an attachment to the bill that ends a ban on oil shale development on federal lands raises a lot of legal questions. But both of his Republican counterparts disagree. In fact, Congressman Chris Cannon told the Doug Wright Show it's a sham.
He said, "There's nothing that encourages the real development of new sources of energy, and the American people ought to be really, really mad."
The bill also opens waters 50 miles off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts to drilling if the adjacent states agree.
Rep. Matheson spoke with Grant and Amanda on Utah's Morning News. To hear the interview, play the audio on this page.