House GOP unveils bill to boost domestic energy production
The proposal, known as the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, includes seven bills that would do everything from requiring a plan to expand energy production and exploration on federal lands if the president taps into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to easing barriers to accessing permits to drill on federal lands.
Another portion of the bill, written by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., would require an overall review or freeze of certain regulations put in place by the Obama Administration's Environmental Protection Agency meant to increase fuel standards and increase air quality. Republicans say the new regulations could hurt the already-struggling economy.
"All we are doing with this legislation is, before it's implemented, let's examine and explore the cost and what will be the impact on fuel in America," said Whitfield. "Because if we're going to stimulate the nation's economy, we do at this particular time in our nation's history have to be concerned about additional cost."
According to AAA, average gas prices for regular have actually fallen 20 cents compared to one month ago.
When asked if that downward trend takes some of the urgency out of the Republican's effort or message, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the Republican Whip in the House who's leading the energy efforts, said that doesn't mean consumers feel they are paying a fair price.
"I don't know, I just filled up at $4.25 a gallon so gas prices are almost at 100 percent more than when the president took office," said McCarthy. "The uncertainty in that, the disposable income it takes, and most importantly our money is going overseas to somewhere else when we can produce it right here in America."
The national average price for regular gasoline today is at $3.57 a gallon which is actually down $00.53 since the last year of President George W. Bush's presidency, though prices are still over $4.00 a gallon in places like California.
The top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., slammed the Republican proposal.
"Instead of sending a thank you note to President Obama for increasing oil production and decreasing our foreign oil dependence through his 'all of the above' energy strategy, House Republicans are sending a love letter to the oil industry in the form of another oil-above-all scheme," said Rep. Markey. "These bills allow oil companies to say what lands they want to drill, even if Americans use them for hunting or fishing. And just in time for the NBA playoffs, it puts a 'shot clock' on the safety review of drilling permits, sending America back to the speed-over-safety days of the BP spill."
Republican leaders expect to bring the bill to the House floor by the end of this month. It is unlikely to gain enough traction to get enough votes to make it out of the Senate, if it even gets a vote there at all, but expect the proposals to be a major talking point for Republicans heading into November elections.
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