With energy prices rising in part because of turmoil in the Middle East, lawmakers from both parties are questioning the Obama administration's energy policies and arguing more should be done to develop domestic sources of energy.
"I don't think the president's position on oil and gas is as strong as it should be," said Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, where the oil industry plays a large role in the local economy. "Oil and gas is an important industry in the United States today and it will be in the next decades."
Many in the administration emphasize alternative forms of energy and some, including the president, have openly talked of the need for higher prices on oil and coal to make alternatives such as wind and solar more price-competitive.
Landrieu and most other lawmakers embrace an "all of the above" strategy, saying all forms of energy should be developed. But both Republicans and Democrats note that it will be decades before the need for oil is significantly reduced, so why not produce more of it? The U.S. use 20 million barrels a day but produces only seven million.
At the same time, some Republican senators charge the Environmental Protection Agency is out to kill the coal industry.
More than half the nation's electricity comes from coal, and Senate Minority Leader McConnell, R-Ky., accuses the EPA of sitting on mine applications, noting 79 are now in bureaucratic limbo.
"The EPA has turned the permitting process into a back-door means of shutting down coal mines by sitting on permits indefinitely, thus removing any regulatory certainty," he said.
So McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and others introduced a bill to force the EPA to use or lose its veto over mine applications within 60 days.