House GOP ready to move on Boehner’s plan to link drilling and infrastructure

A House panel will likely approve bills next week that form the drilling portion of Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) plan to fund infrastructure projects with cash raised through expanded oil-and-gas development.

The bills will provide Republicans a hook for continuing political attacks against White House energy policies, but are highly unlikely to advance in the Senate or win Obama administration support.

The House GOP plan would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling — a nonstarter for the White House and most Democrats — and require a vastly greater expansion of offshore oil-and-gas leasing than the administration supports.

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The House Natural Resources Committee will meet Wednesday to mark up three bills. They would open ANWR; require oil-and-gas leasing off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and remove restrictions in the eastern Gulf of Mexico; and require commercial leasing for oil shale projects in Western states.

“Expanding access to America’s abundant offshore and onshore energy resources will create millions of new American jobs, lower energy prices and generate new revenue to help pay for infrastructure improvements. When new energy resources are developed, we’ll need updated infrastructure to bring it to market. This creates a link that will allow for both American energy jobs and American infrastructure jobs to be created simultaneously,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) in a statement.

President Obama in recent days has parried election-season GOP attacks against his oil-and-gas record by touting plans for lease sales in the western and central Gulf of Mexico, and vowing support for expanded onshore natural-gas production and incentives for natural-gas-powered vehicles.

But Republicans allege White House policy leaves far too many areas off-limits to drilling rigs.