House energy bills spark oil debate

June 7, 2012 at 9:02 AM

WASHINGTON, June 7 (UPI) -- An energy trade group said energy legislation proposed by U.S. lawmakers would enhance energy security, though a critic says it panders to oil companies.

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act, which includes measures aimed at exploiting natural resources in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. It also includes language that supporters say removes federal burdens to onshore oil and gas leases.

The American Petroleum Institute, a trade group representing more than 500 oil and natural gas businesses, said the measures would breathe new life into a sluggish U.S. economy.

"Americans want to access more of our own energy resources, not only to enhance energy security, but also to put downward pressure on prices," Conrad Lass, API senior director of federal relations, said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee, said the effort to expand oil and natural gas drilling comes as gasoline prices in the United States decline and more drilling rigs are in operation.

Markey said his Republican counterparts were "sending a love letter" to oil companies with their proposals.

"House Democrats will continue to push for an 'all of the above' strategy that includes wind, solar, domestic natural gas production and advanced vehicles to reduce America's dependence on oil," a statement from Markey read.

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