GOP to Start Energy Campaign

Posted June 5, 2008 at 4:08pm

House GOP leaders on Thursday afternoon outlined their summer strategy for linking rising gas costs to Democrats’ failure to take action on energy legislation.

Starting the week of June 9 and continuing through the week of July 28, Republicans are vowing to file a discharge petition relating to energy issues every week that the House is in session.

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said the goal is to force votes on bills that they claim would lower gas prices by increasing a reliance on domestic energy sources.

Discharge petitions will be filed on bills that would open American oil refineries, invest in nuclear and clean coal technology, loosen refinery application processes, allow for “environmentally sensitive exploration” of Arctic and deep-sea regions, and repeal a ban on acquiring fuels from oil shale, tar sands and coal-to-liquid technology.

A discharge petition can be filed after a bill has been pending, but not acted on, for 30 legislative days. If 218 lawmakers sign the petition, the bill can be brought directly to the floor for a vote.

Earlier Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) deflected calls from Republicans to bring to the floor global warming legislation sponsored by Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

Even though most oppose the Markey measure, Republicans have been hounding Pelosi to bring it forward to give them a platform to talk about rising gas prices.

“We have an array of bills” that address climate change, said Pelosi on Thursday.

Pelosi said Markey and House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) “are working on the bill. And so I think you will see coming up, perhaps, some hearings on an array of bills.”

However, Pelosi said she doesn’t know if “it’s possible to have a bill passed” this year, in large part because of GOP and White House opposition to provisions that regulate global emissions.

“I hope so,” she said, “but we know with a new president we can get the best possible bill.”

On Wednesday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent Pelosi a letter urging her to bring the Markey bill to the floor to allow lawmakers to discuss ways to bring down gas costs by increasing a reliance on American energy.

“Obviously, Rep. Boehner does not support the Markey bill, but we will take any opportunity available to talk about the differences between the two parties on energy issues,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.