GOP calls for drilling in Arctic Wildlife Refuge to pay for infrastructure

A proposal from House Republicans to funnel energy development revenues into infrastructure spending calls for a massive expansion of offshore oil-and-gas leasing and opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling rigs, according to new details unveiled Friday.

The proposal sets up a collision with the Obama administration, which opposes drilling in the Alaskan refuge and is proposing a far narrower offshore leasing plan.

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House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerCoronavirus poses risks for Trump in 2020 Lobbying world Pelosi-Trump relationship takes turn for the terrible MORE (R-Ohio) has discussed the GOP leadership plan to tie energy production to infrastructure projects in broad strokes in recent weeks.

On Friday, Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) put meat on the bones by announcing a plan that would require lease sales in areas off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, among other areas, and lift a congressional ban on oil-and-gas leasing that covers most of the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The plan includes a lease sale off Virginia’s coast by mid-2012.

“The U.S. has vast energy resources that are not being developed due to federal government roadblocks. Removing these barriers and allowing expanded American energy production will create long-term job growth, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and provide much-needed revenue to help pay for vital infrastructure improvements,” Stivers said in a statement Friday.

The plan is expected to move through the House in the “coming weeks,” his office said.

It would provide states with drilling off their shores a 37.5 percent cut of the revenues, expanding the revenue-sharing program for several other Gulf of Mexico states created in 2006 to other regions.

Separately, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc HastingsRichard (Doc) Norman HastingsCongress just resolved a 20-year debate over Neolithic remains Boehner hires new press secretary GOP plots new course on Endangered Species Act reform MORE (R-Wash.) introduced legislation that authorizes oil-and-gas leasing in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The measures stand little chance of clearing the Democratically controlled Senate and would almost certainly be vetoed if they reached President Obama’s desk.

But they nonetheless provide House Republicans a way to tout their energy-focused economic plans and offer a way to pay for infrastructure.

Democrats, in contrast, have called for paying for infrastructure projects with higher taxes on the wealthy.

Hastings’s committee is holding a hearing on the bills next week.