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Originally published Friday, February 10, 2012 at 8:12 AM

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Idaho panel unanimously clears oil and gas bill

Idaho's House Resources and Conservation Committee voted unanimously to limit local governments' authority over oil and natural gas drilling, after energy-industry representatives raised concerns they could be regulated out of business by cities or counties.

The Associated Press

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BOISE, Idaho —

Idaho's House Resources and Conservation Committee voted unanimously to limit local governments' authority over oil and natural gas drilling, after energy-industry representatives raised concerns they could be regulated out of business by cities or counties.

According to the industry-sponsored bill that passed 16-0 Thursday, local governments would be prohibited from passing ordinances prohibiting natural gas and oil extraction.

The vote came despite overwhelming testimony from those who fear drilling will disrupt their lives and environment.

After recent, potentially lucrative discoveries near New Plymouth, there's keen interest from exploration companies in reserves in western Idaho, as well as elsewhere.

Consequently, officials in Washington County, near existing discoveries, began crafting their own rules.

The gas industry cried foul, complaining a patchwork of onerous restrictions could doom efforts before they really get started.

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