Boehner Comments on Energy, ANWR, Republican Agendas

Republican House Leader John Boehner as well as other ranking GOP members spoke at a press conference Tuesday afternoon focusing on current events regarding the Republican Party, namely America’s energy crisis.

Other issues touched on include the Republican economic, security and health care agendas.

Energy Crisis

Boehner covered the American Energy Tour he along with 10 freshman Republican House members attended last weekend, which included visiting the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Golden, Colo., as well as a trip to Alaska to view ANWR.

The tour stressed the importance that Americans do “All of the Above” (renewable energy, energy efficiency and domestic energy production) in order to increase American energy and lower gas prices.

The NREL has been in Golden since the ’70s, working to create viable forms of renewable energy as well as energy efficiency development. The members of Congress were able to learn about fuel-cell powered cars, solar and wind energy, cellulosic ethanol and solar-powered shingles.

“Today 70 percent of our energy needs are imported oil,” Boehner said. “I think this jeopardizes our national security and certainly jeopardizes our economy.”

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota’s 6th district who also went on the trip spoke with HUMAN EVENT’s John Gizzi about it.

She added that the members on the trip are not opposed to alternative energies, but available energy not being implemented needs to be opened up.

“We — the members that went — are for all forms of expansion of American energy production, and that’s where we’re coming from,” she said. “We’re working on alternatives whether it’s traditional sources of energy, we believe that Congress has been the problem on energy, and Congress can be the solution on energy by getting out of the way, essentially, and unlocking the handcuffs of every form of American energy that there is.”

Upon visiting ANWR and seeing the conditions — of drilling equipment as well as wildlife and terrain — Boehner, and other participants on the trip have concluded that it is environmentally safe and economically imperative that America utilizes the resources available.

“We’re going to look for every option we can to increase American [energy] production, whether it’s ANWR, whether it’s the outer continental shelf, the inner mountain west where we’ve got oil shale,” Boehner said. “We are going to look for every option we can to force the vote.”

Boehner says the reason he and his colleagues are pro-drilling lies not only in the energy independence it will spawn but also in the fact that technology has made it possible to drill without hurting the environment.

“Technology has advanced to the point where they can use about one sixth of the land mass than they did 35 years ago and even 20 years ago in the Prudhoe Bay area.”

Bachmann put it in perspective saying, “The portion of ANWR that would be used for drilling is the size of a postage stamp on a football field — it’s a very small area.”

Boehner mentioned another incentive to begin drilling: If the Trans Alaska Pipeline System’s oil transfer — which is about 700,000 barrels of oil a day currently — drops below 300,000 barrels a day, it will be rendered useless.

Twenty years ago the production rate was 2.1 million barrels a day, and the current decline in production is 20 percent per year.

Yet Boehner said there are still three people standing in the way of producing more domestic energy — something he says the majority of Americans are in favor of.

“The only thing standing in the way of what we want — what the American people want — are Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama, who do not believe that increased energy production is what’s necessary to fix the current prices,” he said.

In spite of this opposition, Boehner said he will fight for increasing domestic energy production.

“We’re going to look for every option we can to increase American [energy] production, whether it’s ANWR, whether it’s the outer continental shelf, the inner mountain west where we’ve got oil shale,” he said. “We are going to look for every option we can to force the vote.”

Four-Part Agenda: Energy, Security, Economy, Health Care

In addition to energy, Boehner mentioned the remaining three factors of the Republican’s four-part agendas: the economy, security and health care.

Boehner said the Republican economic agenda will stop Democrat tax hikes, reform the tax code and show that Republicans are serious about entitlement reform.

The Republican security agenda will strive to increase security — both foreign and domestic.

“Our security agenda will help combat the rising crime rates and further address terrorist threats that we face.”

Boehner also addressed the Republican health care agenda.

“This week we’ll unveil our health care agenda where we put doctors and patients back in charge of our health care and reward quality and innovation in our health care global system,” Boehner said.

Following Boehner’s initial briefing, the conference included a Q&A session touching on a variety of issues, including the eliminating earmarks and pork-barreling and strengthening the Republican Party.