With gas prices on the rise, Republicans are taking on the Obama administration for not doing enough to support domestic energy production.
It’s a talking point the National Republican Congressional Committee is using against U.S. House Democrats it seeks to unseat in this year’s election.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat who represents Minnesota’s 1st District, is among the lawmakers the NRCC has targeted.
“Despite his lip service now that gas prices are at record highs, Tim Walz has a clear record of discouraging badly needed energy independence,” NRCC Communications Director Paul Lindsay wrote in a Feb. 29, 2012 press release.
In fact, Walz has a clear record of encouraging domestic energy production.
To support its claim, the NRCC points to Walz’s recent vote against a bill that would allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico and allow the Keystone XL oil pipeline to move forward.
The bill passed with the help of 21 Democrats, but Walz was not among them. His spokesman said that Walz did not agree with drilling in Alaska, but that he did support every amendment to the legislation that would have allowed the Keystone pipeline to move forward.
NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek also pointed out in an e-mail that Walz voted against legislation that would have sped up Environmental Protection Agency air-permitting decisions on off-shore drilling proposals and a separate bill that would have required the president to speed approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
But while Walz did vote against those bills, it’s unfair to say that he has a “clear record” of discouraging energy independence.
In the summer of 2008, when oil prices skyrocketed, Walz was part of a bipartisan group that proposed legislation that would allow more offshore oil drilling and use the royalties to help pay for alternative forms of energy.
Three years later, Walz, and other members of the original group, among them Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen of Minnesota’s 3rd District, reintroduced that legislation. It included provisions to use royalties to expand alternative energy and energy efficiency, improve roads and bridges, and shrink the deficit.
In 2009, Walz and Paulsen also teamed up with business and labor groups to call on the Minnesota Legislature to repeal a law that blocks nuclear power plants from being built in the state. A bill to lift the ban stalled in the Legislature last year. The duo has also praised President Barack Obama for pushing nuclear energy production nationwide.
It’s true that Walz has not always backed Republican efforts to expand domestic energy production. But since he became a member of Congress, Walz has been involved in other high-profile efforts to allow more offshore drilling and nuclear energy production, frequently with members of the Republican party.
The NRCC’s claim is false.
Clerk of the House, Final Vote Results for Roll Call 71, Feb. 16, 2012
Clerk of the House, Final Vote Results for Roll Call 650, July 26, 2011
The Hill, House Passes GOP Energy Bill, By Pete Kasperowicz, Feb. 16, 2012
Mankato Free Press, Oil gridlock under attack Walz part of bipartisan group, By Mark Fischenich, July 30, 2008
H.R. 1861, accessed March 2, 2012
Website of Congressman Tim Walz, Congressman Walz and Congressman Paulsen Join Broad Coalition in Support of Bipartisan, Comprehensive Approach to Energy Independence, accessed March 2, 2012
Minnesota Public Radio News, Walz and Paulsen push bipartisan energy plan, by Brett Neely, May 12, 2011
Minnesota Public Radio News, Reps. Paulsen and Walz call to lift ban on nuclear power, by Tom Scheck, November 24, 2009
The Star Tribune, A consensus is emerging on nuclear power, by Reps. Erik Paulsen and Tim Walz, March 2, 2010
E-mail exchange Andrea Bozek, spokeswoman, NRCC, March 2, 2012
Interview, Tony Ufkin, spokesman, Rep. Tim Walz, March 2, 2012