Senate Republicans unveiled an energy package today for how they would approach the issue if they were in charge.
Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the proposal helps set Republicans apart from Democrats in a tight election cycle.
“What this legislation does is it provides a very concrete blueprint and a plan,” Cornyn said. “As we all know, there is going to be an election in 100 days or so and the American people are going to have a choice. If they choose to put Republicans in the leadership role in the White House and in the Senate, this is the plan which is the blueprint for our legislative action; to not only take advantage of our natural resources that have been provided to us, but also to say this is how we are going to create jobs and get our economy back on track.”
Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) is leading the effort to pass the measure, which he said has 30 co-sponsors.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) is a supporter of the package, many parts of which have already been passed by the Republican-run House.
The proposal calls for approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a 1,700-mile pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
Other provisions include establishment of an “all-of-the-above” energy program for federal lands; establishment of an interagency task force to conduct a cumulative analysis on certain Environmental Protection Agency rules and actions that affect the price of gasoline and diesel fuels; and an improved leasing process for oil and gas production.
The proposal would also provide for leasing in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, an area of land on Alaska’s North Slope managed by the federal government, and allow for Internet auctions of off-shore leases.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said at the press conference that the package is the result of the Senate, with its Democratic majority, not doing all it can on the issue.
“I think what you are seeing on the Senate side, at least from those of us that are here today, is a somewhat of a pent-up frustration that we haven’t been able to advance some of the smaller component pieces. We’ve watched what the House has been able to produce ... and see it stall out here,” she said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.