U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings wants to make some changes in Congress when Republicans take the majority in January.
Namely, he wants to reconfigure the House Natural Resources Committee -- which he's in line to lead as chairman -- to bring energy policy under its umbrella.
Hastings, of Pasco, sent a letter to members of the House Republican Conference this week suggesting the move, which he said would advance Republican interests in energy development.
"As Republicans transition to the majority, we are presented with the unique opportunity to make bold changes in how the House operates and serves the American people," Hastings wrote.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Tri-City Herald
Hastings' office said he was not available for an interview Friday.
The proposal drew fire from fellow Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, who is seeking the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
Energy policy is the domain of the Energy and Commerce Committee. It oversees topics as diverse as health care, interstate commerce, telecommunications, the Food and Drug Administration, technology and consumer protection as well as general energy policy.
Hastings said in his letter that shifting the committee structure would level the power wielded by the committees and create more opportunities for members of Congress to engage with important issues.
"This proposal would allow one committee to focus on health care and Obamacare ... and one committee to focus on energy, our all-of-the-above approach (to energy production), and the administration's policies that hurt energy jobs and American-made energy production," he said.
"It also aligns jurisdiction with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee -- a simplification that advances our ability to ultimately achieve legislative successes."
But Upton said splitting his committee would weaken Republicans' ability to fight the Environmental Protection Agency and President Obama on energy policy issues such as cap-and-trade.
"This ill-advised proposition could not come at a worse time and would have dire consequences," Upton said in a statement.
"The current administration has fallen asleep at the wheel in addressing the nation's energy needs and has taken a regulatory path that kills jobs and makes energy more expensive at a time when the nation's families can least afford it. It is imperative to keep the energy and environment portfolio together under the roof of the Energy and Commerce Committee to ensure we can stop the administration from regulating what they could not legislate."
The Natural Resources Committee already oversees energy development on federal lands and offshore, including oil and natural gas drilling, hydropower, wind, solar, coal and other energy sources.
"Energy deserves the concentrated attention of a committee with full jurisdiction over such a sweeping issue," Hastings said.
Hastings said after he was re-elected Nov. 2 that one of his top priorities would be to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.
"The issues we were focusing on -- energy production on national lands ... they are the things that lead to jobs," Hastings said then.