The war of words over skyrocketing gas prices intensified Tuesday on Capitol Hill, as House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) accused Democrats of “worshiping at the altar of radical environmentalism” in their drive to block access to domestic oil drilling.
In a sign of just how politically charged the issue has become, Democrats immediately fired back, directing Boehner to a “use it or lose it” energy bill set to be taken up on the House floor this week, that would require oil and gas companies to drill on the millions of acres of leases they already hold.
House Republicans continued their drive to get their energy proposals released from committees on Tuesday, as Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-N.Y.) said he would file a discharge petition to release a bill that would repeal a federal ban on acquiring alternative fuels for government vehicles.
“Republicans want to put everything on the table,” said Rep Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the bill’s sponsor. “The Democrats somehow believe that you can either beg your way, sue your way, tax your way or castigate your way into lower energy prices.”
Democrats however, pushed back from the charge that they are not addressing the issue, pointing to a slew of energy related bills set to hit the House floor this week, including the “use it or lose it” bill.
“If John Boehner is serious about giving America the energy strategy we need, co-sponsoring legislation that would compel oil companies to drill on the 68 million acres they already have would be a good place to start,” said Nick Papas, a spokesman for House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.).
However, even that bill is a point of contention, as Boehner sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) a letter citing a study by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists that found that the process of leasing and developing new leases can take between 5 and 10 years.