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House Speaker John Boehner talked about gas prices at a news conference where he was joined by fellow Republicans Rep. Fred Upton (MI) and Rep. Richard 'Doc' Hastings (WA).
House Speaker John Boehner talked about gas prices at a news conference where he was joined by fellow Republicans Rep. Fred Upton (MI) and Rep. Richard 'Doc' Hastings (WA). Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images
As NPR's Scott Horsley reported for Morning Edition, rising gas and oil prices are fueling one of many partisan debates in Washington, with Republicans blaming Obama Administration policies for interfering with greater domestic oil production that, the GOP argues, might slow or lower prices at the pump.
In their defense, as Scott noted, White House officials like press secretary Jay Carney, ask what would seem to many the killer question: if President Obama were so bad for domestic oil production, how is it that 2010 saw the greatest increase in domestic production since 2003?
Still, whoever's in the White House at a time of rising oil and gas prices is going to get criticized for not doing enough to encourage more production or of being insensitive to the plight of consumers.
On Thursday, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) kept up the attack on Obama over gas prices, arguing that the president's energy policies are of a piece with an economic approach that he alleges has hamstrung job growth.
From the speaker's weekly news conference with reporters:
BOEHNER: "Just as with jobs, the American people recognize that Washington has been a big part of the problem when it comes to the price of energy. The Obama Administration has consistently blocked American energy production that would lower costs and create new jobs. They've cancelled leases for new exploration, jeopardized new nuclear energy, and imposed a de facto drilling moratorium. They've even pushed a 'cap and trade' national energy tax that the president himself admitted would cause energy costs to 'skyrocket.'
"Well, the average price for a gallon of gas is on its way to $4. If the White House has its way – and the EPA imposes a backdoor national energy tax – gas prices will only go higher. Republicans have a plan to help lower gas prices and create new jobs – and in the coming weeks and months, we'll be taking action on that plan. I'm calling it our American Energy Initiative.
It's unclear if Boehner intentionally gave his "American Energy Initiative" the same initials as the famous conservative think tank, AEI, but there you have it.
Boehner said the House GOP's AEI, which is drawn from its the Republican "Pledge to America" campaign document, would:
- Stop government policies that are driving up gas prices;
- Expand American energy production to lower costs & create more jobs; and
- Promote an 'all of the above' strategy to increase all forms of American energy.
In short, the Republican proposals refine down to removing as many legislative and regulatory roadblocks as possible from the greater extraction and use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.
Rep. Richard "Doc" Hastings (R-WA) said the political instability in the Middle East argued even more strongly for the boosting domestic production, especially on federal lands, including the Outer Continental Shelf and Alaska, where he said there are estimated reserves of 160 million barrels of oil.
HASTINGS: We have seen today, over the last month or so, the sharp spike because of the unrest. Here we are sitting on all these resources. It seems to me to be in the best interest of our country to utilize these resources not only for jobs, the economy. But also for national security issues.
The Obama Administration, feeling the urgency of global warming science that's disputed by many on the political right, has resisted calls to expand domestic drilling and extraction as widely as possible.
The administration's preference has been to place greater emphasis on moving away from fossil fuels by encouraging greater research into and use of renewable energy sources. That approach makes more sense, the president has argued, particularly since the U.S. has just three percent of the world's oil reserves.