By Bernie Becker - 02/28/11 08:54 PM EST
Hatch also said that he was having trouble getting Democrats to join with him on cultivating natural gas, one of his pet issues, and also dubbed America “the Saudi Arabia of coal.”
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill this week, where he is expected to be asked by Republicans about current restrictions on offshore oil drilling.
Oil prices have been fluctuating amid the strife in Libya, hitting $100 a barrel last week for the first time since President Obama entered the White House. Administration officials expressed concern about the cost of oil last week, but also said they were confident the economy could handle a spike in prices.
Hatch pushed during last year’s lame-duck session of Congress, unsuccessfully, to pass a natural-gas measure that aimed to reduce demand for oil.