Two GOP Lawmakers Switch Support for Expanded Alaska Drilling

Two House Republicans, who previously opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge without preconditions, came out Thursday in favor of opening up the field for oil exploration.

Reps. Jim Walsh of New York and Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland announced at a press conference they'd support drilling there.

Bartlett had opposed drilling unless profits from ANWR go to the development of alternative energy sources, and he conceded that drilling will have an environmental impact.

"There will be environmental impact. I believe the environmental impacts pales compared to the need," he said.

Earlier in the day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that savings from drilling in ANWR would be 1.8 cents per gallon in 2030.

"All told, the U.S. has only 1.6 percent of world's known oil supply. But every day, Americans use a quarter of the world’s daily oil consumption," Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. "So the fact is, we CAN'T drill our way out of this problem. But we do have unlimited amounts of sunshine, wind, biofuels, biomass, and geothermal heat—and the American ingenuity to discover new ways to power the world, to grow these industries, to create hundreds of thousands of high paying green job—and to become a lot more energy independent."

Bartlett said drilling has to be measured, and the U.S. can't just drill and use the fuel without better planning.

"It's like the kid and the cookie jar. Or the hog who found the feed door open. We're just pigging out," he said. "If you drill there tomorrow what do you do the day after tomorrow?"

Bartlett was also asked about increasing support for drilling in ANWR by House Republicans, though presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain has opposed drilling in ANWAR.

"It is a judgment matter. I will respect McCain's position. I believe he has a credibility not to pander for politics," he responded.

"We are not a monolithic party," Walsh added. "This is fluid. Leaders good and bad react to that."

Bartlett also suggested McCain was running "a good campaign" by distancing himself from the GOP.

"McCain does quite well if he distances himself from the White House and well when he distances himself from Republicans. He's running a good campaign," he said.

FOX News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.