A pro-energy advocacy group said it backs the decision by House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) to consider separately the natural resources/energy provisions and surface transportation component of the five-year, $260 billion American Energy and Infrastructure Act.

The energy initiatives in the measure (H.R. 7), which were voted out of House panels earlier this month, would open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s North Slope to energy production; open up heretofore closed areas of the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico to leasing; and would promote the development of oil shale resources in the Rocky Mountain (see Daily GPI, Feb. 2).

Under the Republican-backed measures, revenues from expanded oil and natural gas drilling would help pay for nationwide highway and mass-transit projects. The existing highway trust fund is experiencing a major shortfall in funds. House Democrats contend that revenues from the energy initiatives won’t come close to making that up.

“At the end of the day, the American people don’t care whether federal lands are opened in one large piece of legislation or in separate smaller pieces,” said Dan Kish, senior vice president of American Energy Alliance.

Boehner believes that breaking the legislation into two pieces would improve the odds of it being voted out of the House. Lawmakers opposed to the energy provisions could still vote for the transportation component and vice versa, said Politico in explaining Boehner’s strategy. The House Rules Committee could later write a rule merging the divergent components into one piece of legislation.

“It has not been an easy path to get these bills to the House floor, and it will not be easy to get them across the president’s desk given current political realities. But the time has come to put jobs before politics, and affordable domestic energy before partisan games,” Kish said.

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