Peterson Says Energy Group Doesn’t Answer to Leadership

Posted July 16, 2008 at 1:58pm

Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.), the organizer of a new bipartisan energy working group, said Wednesday that he doesn’t need GOP leaders to “tell me what to do” when it comes to finding workable solutions to lowering gasoline prices.

Peterson, along with Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), on Monday held the first meeting of a 23-member group formed to develop bipartisan legislation to bring down gas costs, which is something they say their leaders have failed to do.

The Pennsylvania Republican shrugged when asked if the group is snubbing leadership by pushing forward with their own member-driven package.

“Why are we working independently?” he asked. “When the system isn’t working, you’ve got to develop your own system.”

Peterson wouldn’t say whether he has been in communication with GOP leaders about the group’s efforts, but he noted that leaders haven’t been part of meetings because lawmakers are driving the discussions themselves.

“I don’t need leadership to tell me what to do,” Peterson said. “I’ve been doing this for 35 years. I don’t owe them anything. I’ve not asked leadership to get me re-elected.”

He said the group will unveil its legislative package “sometime next week” and that offshore drilling will be the foundation of the proposal. Specifically, the package will seek to use royalties from drilling to fund renewable energy sources, he said.

Asked why the names of Members in the group have been so hard to track down, Peterson smiled and said, “We’ve done pretty well so far.”

The reality is that some Democrats “want to be comfortable” with the final package before revealing their identities because they will likely “take a beating” over their support for offshore drilling, Peterson said. “The environmental community will come down with a vengeance.”

But those Democrats are in favor of offshore drilling because they are feeling the heat from constituents who “want available, affordable energy,” he said.