As a six-month comment period closed Monday on whether to expand offshore drilling, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, made a final comment for his group urging allowing more drilling there now.

"Denying access to the abundant oil and gas resources within the Outer Continental Shelf is a tragic example of this administration's continued fulfillment of environmental special interests' agendas," Bishop said.

"Over 14 million Americans are out of work, and yet the Department of Interior continues to drag its heels on granting new leases for energy production," he said.

Bishop has said the Western caucus is concerned that the administration is stymieing oil development not only offshore, but inland in Western states.

"In addition to helping alleviate our dependence on foreign oil, the OCS oil and gas leases would also create over 1 million high-paying domestic jobs," Bishop said.

He added, "I implore (Interior Secretary Ken) Salazar to recognize the opportunities we have before us that could, if new leases are granted, dramatically improve our energy situation and put jobless Americans back to work."

— Lee Davidson