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U.S. Should Lift Energy Production Amid Unrest, Upton Says

03/01/11
By Simon Lomax - BLOOMBERG NEWS

Political unrest in the Middle East may drive energy prices higher, and the U.S. should boost domestic energy production to limit damage to the economy, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton said.

“We need to step up production,” Upton, a Michigan Republican, said today in Washington at an event sponsored by Bloomberg Government and The Abraham Group LLC.

Crude rose from the lowest in a week as Libyan oil exports were curbed by fighting in the North African country and demonstrations planned in Iran raised concern that disruptions will spread. Crude for April delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange rose as much as $1.08 to $98.05 a barrel and was at $97.84 a barrel at 9:07 a.m. New York time. The contract yesterday slid to $96.97, the lowest since Feb. 22.

Interrupted oil production in the Middle East might push prices higher than $100 a barrel and “really threaten our economy in the months and years ahead,” Upton said. The U.S. should respond by boosting oil production in the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska, Upton said. The nation also needs more power plants to meet higher electricity demand, he said.