The top Republican in Congress wrote to President Barack Obama on Tuesday to urge him to "change course" and approve a controversial oil pipeline, seeking to keep up election-year pressure on the Democrat amid rising gasoline prices.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner also said Obama should fulfill his promise of an "all of the above" approach to ease U.S. dependence on foreign oil and drop opposition to legislation expanding domestic production.
Gasoline prices, which now average almost $4 a gallon across the nation, have about doubled since Obama took office in January 2009.
Boehner on Tuesday told reporters after a closed-door GOP conference meeting that the President is to blame. He said Obama and “radical environmental groups” are at fault for the soaring gas prices and said it’s “about damn time” for the United States to adopt a national energy policy, The Hill reports.
“The president says he’s for an all-of-the-above energy plan. Has anyone seen it? I’ve not seen it,” he said.
Republicans have intensified their attacks on Obama's energy policies in recent days, focusing on rising gasoline prices that could hurt Obama's re-election prospects in the Nov. 6 face-off against the eventual Republican presidential nominee.
"To provide greater energy security, I would urge you to change course and expeditiously approve the pipeline permit as soon as the application has been filed," Boehner wroe in his letter to the president, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.
Obama last month rejected TranCanada Corp's proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline through environmentally-sensitive areas of Nebraska from the U.S.-Canadian border. On Monday, the White House said it welcomed the company's proposal to build a southern leg of the pipeline and refile an application for the northern part of the route.
But Boehner said the country could not afford to wait.
"The current turmoil in the Middle East and its effect on gas prices reminds us how dangerous it is to rely so much on that region for our energy supply," he said. "We can't wait for this project to get started."
Boehner said Obama’s decision Monday to approve part of the Keystone oil sands pipeline represents “a positive first step” but doesn’t go nearly far enough. “We need to have the entire Keystone pipeline be approved by this White House,” he said.
“The fact that they are trying to move forward on the section from Oklahoma to Texas is a positive first step.” But “major” oil supplies are available in North Dakota and Canada, where the pipeline has yet to be approved, Boehner said.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor also criticized Obama for his inconsistent policy on Keystone. “It is this kind of leadership, or lack thereof, that frustrates the American people,” he said.
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