Energy Week Ahead: House Pumps Up for Gas Price Assault on Obama

President Barack Obama’s energy policies will face a double-barreled assault this week as the Republican-controlled House holds two hearings focused on surging gasoline prices.

The Natural Resources Committee says the subject of its March 21 session is “Harnessing American Resources to Create Jobs and Address Rising Gasoline Prices.” Chairman Doc Hastings of Washington, in the Republican radio address on March 3, blamed administration policies for the jump in prices, which he noted have more than doubled since Obama took office.

On March 20, a subcommittee led by Doug Lamborn of Colorado will grill Bob Abbey, the director of the Bureau of Land Management, about the pace of permitting for oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Hastings accuses the president of delaying leases.

Democrats led by Ed Markey of Massachusetts will defend the administration, giving it credit for record natural-gas production and what Obama said is the highest oil output in eight years.

Fracking, a technique used by companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. to release natural gas and oil trapped in rocks, may also be a hot topic at the hearings, as the Republicans want to expand the practice that the Obama administration plans to regulate.

The American Petroleum Institute, the largest energy trade group, says the industry is responsible for the surge in natural gas and oil production. Output in federal territories, such as in the Gulf of Mexico, is down, the API says.

ALSO WORTH WATCHING:

CHINA SOLAR TARIFFS: The Commerce Department tomorrow is expected to make a preliminary determination on whether to impose additional tariffs on China’s solar-equipment imports. U.S. manufacturers, led by SolarWorld AG’s U.S. unit, are seeking duties on more than $1 billion in imports, claiming China’s companies are unfairly subsidized.

GAS RESOURCES: U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt will be testifying before the House Natural Resources Committee on March 22 in Washington. Republicans are expected to ask about the agency’s estimates of U.S. natural-gas and oil resources from shale rock and a study its conducting on hydraulic fracturing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Katarzyna Klimasinska in Washington at kklimasinska@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net

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