House Republicans unveil their version of transportation spending bill and call for opening ANWR to drilling

As I mentioned in the headlines earlier, House Republicans today announced their version of a multi-year transportation funding bill — and it’s very different from the two-year bill being discussed in the Senate. Here’s the news from Metro’s government relations staff:

Today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) unveiled a 5-year Transportation Reauthorization plan. During the announcement and the introduction of the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act” (H.R. 7), House Speaker Boehner and Chairman Mica did not specifically address the funding levels in the bill. The leaders did explain, however, that additional funding for the measure would come from domestic energy production, including new offshore drilling for oil and natural gas, and established clear rules on extracting oil from shale rock and opening up parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling. House Speaker Boehner expressed his hope to pass H.R. 7 by the end of calendar year 2011. Please click here to view the press release issued by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act.”

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is about 19 million acres in size. There is about 1.5 million acres of area along the coastal plain on which oil drilling could happen — but only with Congressional approval.

President Obama has said that he’s against drilling in the refuge but has pushed to expand domestic drilling, including in Alaska; here’s a fuzzily worded presidential proclamation celebrating the park’s 50th anniversary that seems to be against drilling. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge, earlier this year took the first steps toward increasing protection of the coastal plain.

Obviously, this version of the bill puts Republicans and Democrats on yet another collision course as the 2012 elections approach. The coastal plain of the refuge — which is home to the Porcupine Caribou Herd — and is sacred ground to many conservation groups. Stay tuned.

The following video about the refuge is from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

2 replies

  1. This is ridiculous. There’s never been a need to drill in ANWR, it’s just a political football.

    If we would spend more on mass transit, commuter rail and high speed rail, we could cut back on oil consumption rather than always drilling.

    I haven’t seen if the GOP plan includes any of “America Fast Forward” or the 30/10 plan. That’s far more important than drilling.