By Justin Sink - 03/03/12 11:36 AM EST
Republicans used their weekly address to slam President Obama on rising gas prices, part of what the GOP says is a "coordinated campaign" to push energy to the forefront of national politics.
House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) pushed what Republicans are calling their "all-of-the-above" energy approach, which would encourage additional drilling in federally owned and offshore areas, the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and a loosening of regulations on the oil industry.
The Washington lawmaker said higher gas prices reverberate through the American economy, damaging prospects for recovery from the recession.
"Local governments are forced to make cutbacks to police patrols and other essential services. Schools run fewer buses. The cost of groceries go up. The cost of running a business goes up, and that means less to invest in hiring new workers," Hastings said. "Rising gas prices are a huge drain on our economy, plain and simple."
Hastings hammered Obama for his objection to drilling in areas that Democrats warn could be irrevocably harmed by drilling, including the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve and the Rocky Mountains.
"While the president says oil production alone can’t solve our problems, his administration has proposed costly regulations that would hurt the supply of other domestic sources. Instead of placing his bet on American-made energy and the workers who produce it, President Obama has wasted taxpayer dollars on Solyndra and other unproven technologies," Hastings said.
Republicans have actively hammered Obama over rising gas prices this week, seeing political opportunity in the unseasonably high price at the pump.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday Obama and “radical environmental groups” were responsible for fuel prices and said it was “about damn time” the nation developed a comprehensive energy policy.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said rising prices weren't "simply the result of forces we can’t control. It is to a large extent the result of a vision that this president laid out even before he was elected to office.”
But Democrats have argued that the rising prices were due to a complex network of factors, including increasing demand spurred by economic growth and tensions in the middle east. Liberal lawmakers have pointed to expert testimony that suggests there is little the federal government can do to relieve high gas prices in the short term, and that most Republican proposals would take years to have any tangible effect on prices.
Obama said last week that Republicans were exploiting the issue for political gain.
“Only in politics do people root for bad news, do they greet bad news so enthusiastically,” Obama said.
In his weekly address, Obama call for his own "all-of-the-above" strategy which would develop other sources of energy — not just oil drilling.