By Andrew Restuccia – 03/16/11 12:33 PM ET

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said Wednesday he will introduce energy legislation to speed up oil-and-gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and open other offshore regions to drilling as well.

Hastings held a hearing Wednesday on the Obama administration’s offshore drilling policies. It’s the first in a series of hearings on offshore drilling and gas prices — issues that have moved up on the Capitol Hill agenda as turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa have driven up energy costs.

“Let me state very clearly that these hearings will lead to action by this Committee,” Hastings said. “As Chairman, I intend to introduce legislation to put the Gulf of Mexico back to work – and I intend to advance that legislation through this Committee. The Obama Administration seems unmoved by thousands of lost jobs, rapidly rising gasoline prices, and the threat these high prices pose to our economy – but this Committee will not sit idly by.”
While Hastings’ comment is light on details, it nonetheless signifies that he is readying a legislative push after spending weeks deflecting questions about his specific plans.

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