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House party leaders exchanged fire Wednesday night over the aim of a Democratic energy package that GOP leaders chalked up as a “sham” that serves purely political purposes.

Shortly after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) released an overview of the still-developing bill, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) blasted Democrats for crafting an “energy hoax” that gives their Members political cover while doing nothing to lower gas prices.

“Tonight, rumors are circulating about a new ‘no energy’ bill,” Boehner said. The Democratic strategy is to “pretend to open up” the Outer Continental Shelf to drilling by allowing states to opt-in to drill along their coasts, he said. But the bill does not support revenue-sharing to states, which means states have no financial incentive to participate.

“This latest scheme seems designed to block any new American energy from coming online anytime soon,” the Minority Leader said. “The fact that Speaker Pelosi and her colleagues took six weeks to cobble together this sham is an insult to the American people.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) dismissed Boehner’s comments as “premature” and said the bill will increase “responsible drilling.”

“Republican leaders who criticize this bill before seeing it are demonstrating that they would rather have a political issue than a good policy that will help address high gas prices and increase our nation’s energy independence,” Hoyer said.

Trying to redirect attention to their energy proposal, GOP leaders earlier today launched a Web video to promote their bill, which seeks far more extensive drilling. Included in the clip is a photo of Boehner and nine GOP freshmen Reps. standing with vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in Palin’s home state.

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