The Republican-controlled House passed a measure that requires the U.S. Interior Department to conduct oil and gas lease sales that it says were delayed or canceled by the White House.
U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said gasoline prices are hovering around $4 per gallon and oil production in the Gulf of Mexico could slow to a trickle because of "anti-energy" actions from U.S. President Barack Obama.
"The very need for legislation to move forward on projects that have already been approved shows just how far behind Washington is when it comes to expanding American energy production," added House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a statement. "Unfortunately, the administration remains fixated on raising taxes, which would only drive up prices further and push our economy backward."
Republican leaders are lobbying for more drilling off the U.S. coast. Obama in a January address to the nation suggested energy security could be found in renewable energy rather than more offshore drilling.
Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, was quoted by the Platts news service last week as saying that exploration off the U.S. coast wouldn't do much to ease gasoline prices, however.
"You can't drill your way to lower oil prices," he said. "It's a world market. We have a very limited impact on that."