Upton parries Obama’s ‘flat earth’ claim, previews agenda

“But if anyone is stuck in the past, it’s President Obama, as he has refused to acknowledge the great potential of America’s energy resources thanks to new technologies that help us unlock them,” Upton adds.

Obama has repeatedly made the “flat earth” claim to paint Republicans — especially his rivals for the presidency — as hostile to emerging energy sources and advanced auto technologies. Leadership in these fields is economically vital, he argues.

“They dismiss wind power," Obama said during a March speech in Maryland. "They dismiss solar power. They make jokes about biofuels. They were against raising fuel standards. I guess they like gas-guzzlers. They think that’s good for our future. We’re trying to move toward the future, and they want to be stuck in the past.”

Obama made similar comments during his energy-focused swing-state tour a week later. The White House is aggressively seeking to show it’s supportive of domestic oil and natural-gas production and green energy sources, while arguing that Republicans are clinging to a drill-only approach.

Upton’s column touts the growth of U.S. production of oil and gas from shale formations while knocking federal support for programs aimed at commercializing alternative energy.

“It turns out that our energy outlook has changed not due to government subsidies, but to private-sector technology innovation,” Upton writes. “For example, America is now the largest natural-gas producer in the world and could become the largest oil producer by 2017. Why? Because private-sector know-how and market forces helped unlock previously inaccessible supplies.”

His piece previews some of the committee’s upcoming work. “The House Energy and Commerce Committee is conducting an exhaustive review of the limits of government-sponsored energy production, and hopes to release our findings in the next several months,” the column states.

Upton also pledges that later this year the House will pass measures to spur energy development by cutting “red tape.”