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POLITICS: PennAve

House takes up energy production bills this week

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Senate,PennAve,Energy and Environment,Oil,Natural Gas

The House this week will take up legislation that would speed up interstate pipeline projects, increase domestic oil production and expedite natural gas exports.

In the Senate, spending bills have stalled due to partisan infighting, leaving the chamber with little to do but clear a backlog of judicial nominations and debate a hunting and recreation bill.

A package of three appropriations bills stalled Thursday when Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on an amendment process, a problem that has caused gridlock in the chamber all year.

This week, senators will likely begin debate on the Sportsmen’s Act, which would increase access to federal land by those who hunt and fish and would require the federal government to factor in how land management impacts recreational access.

With the summer driving season about to kick into full gear, House Republicans aim to put the spotlight on energy with a series of familiar bills that would increase domestic oil production.

The “Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America that Works Act” won’t win over many Democrats, who favor green energy policies that reduce the nation’s dependency on fossil fuels.

But the Republican majority will easily pass the legislation, which would expand offshore drilling on both coasts and Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, speed up oil and natural gas lease sales and put steps in place to improve accountability, safety and efficiency in offshore energy operations.

Republicans say the legislation is needed because President Obama has put policies in place that have caused the nation's oil and natural gas production to drop by 6 percent and 28 percent respectively.

“The best way to create jobs and help address rising prices is to develop the American energy resources we have right here at home,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said.

Democrats are all but guaranteed to vote against a House Energy and Commerce bill that would strip authority from the president to approve interstate pipeline projects. The bill is aimed at preventing a repeat in the delay of projects like the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Obama has put off deciding whether to allow the $5.4 billion pipeline project to bisect the United States and it is now on hold.

Under the GOP bill, the president and Department of State would no longer be in charge of deciding the fate of such projects. Instead, the Commerce Department would be in charge of approving pipeline projects and would have to do so in 120 days unless it poses a national security threat.

The House will also vote on legislation that would speed up American exports of natural gas. Proponents of the North American Energy Infrastructure Act, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, say the legislation would boost the economy and help countries like Ukraine lessen its dependency on Russian oil.

Opponents say the measure would require years of infrastructure development and would raise U.S. energy prices by cutting the supply available domestically.

In addition to floor legislation, the House Judiciary Committee will spotlight the mass border migration of unaccompanied children with a hearing titled, “An Administration Made Disaster: The South Texas Border Surge of Unaccompanied Alien Minors.”

Republicans are angered by President Obama’s recent executive action that allows illegal immigrant children to remain in the United States. Critics of this policy believe it is playing a key role in attracting thousands of illegal immigrants to cross into Texas, causing a humanitarian crisis that overwhelmed federal and local officials are struggling to resolve.

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