House Republicans will be ready to use President Obama’s gaffe about the private sector “doing fine” when they bring their Domestic Energy and Jobs Act to the floor for a vote next week.
“One of the areas where we can improve the private sector is to have an energy debate about jobs but actually an energy policy for America,” GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters on a conference call today.
The package of bills — all of which passed out of committee with bipartisan support — pushed by McCarthy’s House Energy Action Team are intended to spur job growth while lowering energy costs.
Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) is the author of one of those bills, the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska Access Act.
“The point of this legislation is essentially to cut the red tape so that those who want to go up there and try to get those resources can,” Hastings said today, calling the current process “very, very burdensome.”
“This is a petroleum reserve in which there are potentially billions of barrels of oil; we just can’t get to it because of the red tape,” he added. “When we produce American energy, we produce good-paying American jobs.”
Noting that Obama’s “actions are 180 degrees from the rhetoric,” the chairman stressed that the only new area Obama opened up for drilling that was not in place before was Virginia.
“I don’t think there’s any question that this administration is not threatening, for lack of a better term, fossil fuels,” Hastings said. “This administration has clearly gone against coal, has clearly gone against oil and natural gas, trying to promote its green energy policy.”
Aside from the president being “180 degrees from the truth” on his energy record, Hastings said, his agency needs to untie the hands of energy producers.
“If I’ve heard this once, I’ve heard it dozens of times from the private sector: tell me what the rules are and then don’t change the rules,” Hastings said today. “Certainty is really what the job creators in this country want.”
“No sector of our economy is better situated to power job creation than the energy industry,” said Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who also has a bill in the package that would link any drawdown of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to opening up new lands to oil and gas development.
It also comes to the floor at a time when the White House has dialed back on its energy message to the same degree that prices have eased for many at the pump. And while it promises to sail through the House, it will face an uphill climb in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
“They’ve tried to stay quiet on this,” McCarthy said of administration pushback. “One of the main reasons why: they don’t want the facts out there.”
While gas prices have eased for some, he noted, Californians are paying more than $4 a gallon.
Hence, the GOP strategy of highlighting how much better some areas of America are doing than others thanks to domestic energy production booms, such as North Dakota, which the HEAT team made the centerpiece of its recent energy tour and which has surpassed every state but Texas in production.
“I think it’s something that could actually be bipartisan,” McCarthy said of the bill’s anticipated trip through the upper chamber.