Bachmann says more drilling will bring down the cost of gasby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
As gasoline prices continue to soar, 6th District U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann says she has a plan to get back to $2 a gallon. Bachmann, who's running for re-election to a second term, outlined a strategy Monday to lower gas prices by expanding domestic oil exploration and production. But Bachmann's chief political rival says the election-year promise is based on bad policy.
St. Paul, Minn. — The national average for a gallon of gas is just over $4. The price at the pump was $3.83 at the Sinclair station on Century Ave. in Woodbury, where Bachmann stood with charts and explained her plan to give motorists a break.
"It is the No. 1 issue that I hear from constituents of mine all across the 6th Congressional District," she said. "I think it's safe to say for the bulk of my colleagues as well, they are hearing from their constituents that they're being negatively impacted by the high cost of energy."
Bachmann is backing a Republican proposal to address high gas prices, called the No More Excuses Energy Act. The plan would increase the nation's oil refining capacity and open up drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
Bachmann also wants additional oil and gas exploration, more nuclear power facilities and expanded tax credits for alternative fuels.
Bachmann said her $2 a gallon goal would take a few years to reach. But she said passage of the measures would have an immediate impact on prices.
"One thing we need to do is send a signal to the market that the United States is serious about exploring its own resources," Bachmann said. "The minute we make that announcement and begin to explore American resources, we will see prices start to fall. Because people who purchase energy contract futures get the signal that America is actually going to increase its source of supply."
Bachmann describes the GOP plan as a common sense approach.
The Democrat who wants to win her congressional seat this fall said the plan is inadequate and shortsighted.
DFLer Elwyn Tinklenberg said he supports additional domestic oil exploration as part of a broad energy plan. But he said more drilling, including in ANWR, would offer only a short-term, stopgap solution.
"ANWR will not produce enough oil by 2025 to justify the maintenance of the pipeline and infrastructure that's going to required to move it," Tinklenberg said. "We need to be looking much more long term in our energy policies and our energy strategies."
Tinklenberg, a former state transportation commissioner, said he doesn't think a return to $2 gas is possible unless there's a significant drop in oil consumption.
His energy plan calls for the development of a more efficient transportation system, higher mileage vehicles, alternative fuels and greater conservation.
A recent federal report also raises questions about the price impact of tapping new Alaska oil.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration concluded last month that drilling in ANWR would at best lower the price of a $130 barrel of oil by $1.44. The report said the reduction could also be a small as 41 cents per barrel.
- All Things Considered, 06/16/2008, 5:20 p.m.