Accused by Republicans of blocking efforts to find new sources of oil and gas, House Democrats today unveiled legislation they say will help lower gas prices by demanding that oil companies use what they say are 68 million acres of land onshore and offshore that they currently lease.
"Before we put Florida's economy and families at risk, I want to know why the major oil companies have yet to drill on more than 68 million acres of federal lands that are already under lease," said Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Palm Beach Gardens, a co-sponsor of the legislation and opponent of plans to lift a drilling ban off the coast.
The act would bar companies from obtaining any more leases until they demonstrate they are producing oil and gas, or developing the leases they already hold.
Republicans have scoffed at the measure, saying oil companies already have time limits to explore and tap leases. They held a dueling press conference of their own, poking fun at two of the Democrats' more liberal members who earlier this week raised the possiblity of the government controlling gas prices.
"Apparently," said Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow. "They went to the Hugo Chavez school of goverment enterprise."