GOP Rep. Upton says Obama policies making gas prices ‘even worse’

GOP Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.) on Saturday hammered President Obama's energy policies, saying they were making the recent rise in gasoline prices “even worse."

"Vice President Biden recently said that 'our energy policy's the best it's ever been.' But the facts say otherwise,” said Upton, the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, in the GOP’s weekly address. 

“Last year we produced 100 million barrels less on federal lands than we did the year before. The president rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have decreased our dependence on oil from unstable regions of the world. And heavy-handed federal agencies are adding new layers of regulations on the energy sector, pushing prices only higher,” he said.

Republicans, hoping to inflict election-year political damage on Democrats, have seized on higher gas prices to hit the administration’s energy policies. 

Prices at the pump reached $3.94 last Friday, the highest point this year, according to AAA.

Upton touted two measures, part of the American Energy Initiative, he said his committee was considering to stem further price increases.

"The first of our committee's measures pushes the pause button on costly new regs affecting refineries until we study them all to determine how much they're driving up the price at the pump,” said Upton.

Upton also called for increased domestic drilling, cautioning that administration proposals to tap government oil reserves would only be a short-term fix to the problem

“President Obama tapped into our emergency oil supply - known as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve - last year, and he's thinking about doing it again. But that is not a real solution to rising gas prices. If we deplete our reserves, it indeed is a real threat to our energy security,” he said.

“The second bill we'll soon consider says that if the president releases oil from our emergency reserves, he must open up more federal land for energy development. 

“Technological breakthroughs are helping us unlock vast energy resources that were previously inaccessible - and we're doing it in an environmentally safe way,” said Upton.

The White House has moved to rebuff GOP charges that their policies have contributed to the price hikes, saying that there are no quick-fixes to gasoline prices and stressing administration efforts to promote green energy and expand drilling. 

Energy experts, though, say federal policymakers have little control over high gasoline prices which are tethered to oil prices set on international markets. 

Republicans have continued to attack Obama’s efforts, though, as polls show voter concern over the administration’s handling of the issue.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday showed 62 percent of those surveyed disapproving of the way Obama is addressing pump prices, with 28 percent approving.

"Today we're knocking at the door of a brighter energy future, one that promises abundant, secure, and cheaper North American supplies, as long as Washington doesn't create artificial obstacles,” said Upton in the GOP address. 

“That is what Republicans are working toward, and we invite the president to join us. If he won't lead, we will.”