President Barack Obama is exploiting the Gulf of Mexico oil spill to push climate change legislation, a top House Republican asserted Tuesday. 

GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) accused the president of piggybacking off the environmental crisis to push climate change regulations as part of a new energy bill this summer.

"To exploit this crisis to resurrect his climate change legislation is just wrong," Pence said at a stakeout at the Capitol this morning. 

Obama is expected to call for new energy legislation this evening in his first Oval Office address, following a two-day trip to the Gulf to survey the economic and environmental damages resulting from the ongoing oil spill. 

The president has begun to whip up support for such legislation in an e-mail to supporters yesterday, and is expected to expand in greater detail his expectations of what that legislation might look like, and whether it would include measures to rein in climate change. 

"Americans don't want this administration to exploit this disaster in the Gulf to advance its agenda on energy legislation," Pence said. "The American people want the president to work the problem, not work his liberal agenda."

Republicans worry an energy bill might include measures establishing a cap-and-trade program or some sort of carbon tax, which they've long opposed and have said would seriously hamper the U.S. economy. 

The House passed a cap-and-trade bill a year ago, but that bill had stalled in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has notified his chairmen to be ready to proceed with an energy bill of some sort, which could include some elements to address climate change.

Crossposted to E2 Wire.