WASHINGTON – House Republicans are traveling to Alaska this weekend to check out the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an environment that is the source of 10 billion barrels of oil, but one that Democrats have argued is pristine and should remain so.
In the face of skyrocketing gas prices and continued dependency on foreign oil, Republicans want to allow oil drilling in ANWR, and at least one lawmaker is arguing the wildlife refuge is misnamed.
At a press conference Tuesday on GOP energy plans, Minority Leader John Boehner seemed skeptical that any wildlife worth protecting can be found in ANWR.
"We're going to look at this barren, Arctic desert where I'm hoping to see some wildlife," Boehner said. "But I understand there's none there. But I'm still going to look for it. If I find any, I'll let you know."
House Minority Whip Roy Blunt said he has introduced legislation that will lower the existing number of boutique fuels by requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to remove specific blends from the list if they become obsolete or identical to an existing fuel.
Blunt said boutique fuels are raising the price of gasoline, and other sources of energy are needed because Americans have a priority list of what's worth $4.
"Americans may be willing to pay $4 for a grande double-shot mocha frappucino. They're not willing to pay $4 for some unique blend of fuel that has been determined to save the air in your city," he said.
House and Senate Republicans have been working for weeks to coordinate their message on the need for an energy fix to bring down gas prices, even attempting to catch Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid in a procedural snafu to force a vote on their energy plan.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the Democrats' energy plan is "the legislative equivalent of a fly swatter when the American people are clamoring for heavy artillery."
Democrats want to crack down on energy futures market speculators, on oil companies for their windfall profits and on OPEC for violating antitrust laws in what they say is a monopoly. They have also called on oil companies to drill in areas the federal government has already set aside for it to drill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Reid have also called for the administration to dip into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Congress already forced the administration to suspend delivery until the end of 2008 of the 70,000 barrels of oil per day that were going into the SPR.
Pelosi has said she would leave it to President Bush to determine how much to remove, but she said in a letter earlier this month to Bush that she would support removing 10 percent, or 70 million barrels of the 700 million barrel reserve.
McConnell on Tuesday berated that idea as a "three-day plan," noting that Americans currently use more than 20 million barrels per day.
"It should go without saying that a three-day supply of oil is not a serious proposal for lowering the price of gas," he said.
FOX News' Trish Turner and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.