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Ryan Vows to Boost U.S. Energy Output, Cut Foreign Imports

U.S. House Republicans will “boost American energy resources” by removing “bureaucratic barriers and red tape,” according to a 2012 spending plan by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, proposed eliminating U.S. restrictions on “safe, responsible energy exploration” to cut gas prices, create jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil, according to a 73-page summary released today. Republicans are seeking to reduce federal spending to at least 2008 levels.

President Barack Obama last week outlined goals to cut U.S. oil imports one third by 2025 and offer incentives to spur drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

The administration imposed a moratorium on deep-water drilling after a BP Plc oil well ruptured on April 20, spewing 4.9 million barrels of crude into the Gulf. The ban was lifted in October, and several companies won permits last month to drill in deep waters off the U.S. coast.

Sections of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Coast remain off-limits to producers under Interior Department plans.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress disagree on a budget for the current year ending Sept. 30. Republican leaders in the House have sought to cut $61 billion in government spending, including $3 billion, or 29 percent, from the EPA budget and scale back the Energy Department’s science research efforts and a federal loan guarantee program.

Stopgap Measures

The House plan failed to advance in the Senate, and the government is being funded with stopgap measures as the two parties seek a resolution.

The latest Republican offer is a two-week budget that would cut current spending by $12 billion. Democrats are pushing a plan to cut spending by $33 billion through the end of September.

Obama’s energy policies are “brimming with regulations and reckless spending on government-appointed winners and losers,” Ryan said in the 2012 plan. Ryan proposed reducing energy and environmental spending while providing few details about the programs that would be cut.

Ryan said the EPA’s budget has increased 36 percent since 2008, the year used by Republicans to set spending goals. An agency spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ryan’s budget would trim more than $6 trillion in the next decade from Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and other programs.

Opinion Polls

Public opinion polls show Americans want Congress to bring down the federal deficit, without harming entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security or many discretionary spending programs. Yet it’s the expanding entitlement programs that pose the biggest threat to the government’s long-term fiscal standing, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Ryan’s budget echoed themes of his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” a 99-page document revised in January 2010 that outlines his thoughts on reducing the U.S. debt and the deficit.

Neither the budget nor the 2010 document offered details on U.S. energy policy. The roadmap described Democrats’ “cap-and-trade” proposal to reduce carbon emissions as a “government takeover of most of the energy market” that “fails to boost two of the most reliable sources of clean energy: nuclear and hydro-power.”

The cap-and-trade plan, which would limit carbon emissions and let companies buy credits to pollute above the limit, died in the Senate during the last Congress.

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