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House Republicans Organize to Thwart Climate Legislation

House Republicans have launched a new “real-time” e-mail, Internet and media offensive aimed at fueling public opposition to Democrats’ climate proposals.

The effort, which Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) is spearheading, is designed to coincide with Senate introduction of a climate change proposal next week and the upcoming annual summer spike in gas prices that inevitably results in a message war on Capitol Hill over which party is to blame for higher prices at the pump.

The GOP Conference on Thursday sent out the first installment of what will become a regular e-mail alert — dubbed “Power Lines” — with arguments about the adverse effect the Senate proposal would have on jobs and gas prices. The effort is being spearheaded by 31 House Republicans dubbed the American Energy Solutions Group. The group will be coordinating a series of special orders and other floor speeches by Republican Members, and the Republican Conference will launch a new website to track gas prices and monitor developments with the Democrats’ climate proposal.

“With the imminent unveiling of a climate bill in the Senate, we believe now is the moment,” Pence said following a morning meeting of the working group, adding that the group would promote Republican proposals to expand domestic energy production and take aim at what they term the “Obama moratorium,” a reference to President Barack Obama’s March 31 announcement that he will expand drilling along the coastlines of the South and mid-Atlantic and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Democrats plan to rely on Obama’s move to try to co-opt the GOP message on gas prices this summer, but Republicans will counter that Obama effectively limited drilling in other offshore areas that they would like to see explored.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the working group’s co-chairman, predicted a “full-court press” in the coming weeks.

“If they move a Senate bill, that then puts into play the House bill again, which would damage the economy to no end, not only with energy prices, but a jobs-killer as well,” said Upton, adding that he was confident the message would resonate particularly well in his home state and others with auto interests. “Just as the auto industry seems to be getting back on its feet … all of a sudden we increase those gas prices and … all of a sudden it’s more money out of people’s checkbooks, pocketbooks, wallets — and it’s going to hurt us.”

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