Gas prices out of control? Seven ways lawmakers could help – or hurt.

Gas prices are approaching $4 a gallon and oil prices are above $100 a barrel, leading politicians in Washington and statehouses to propose a flurry of legislation. Some proposals strive to quell voter angst while others might balance budgets by raising gas prices.

Meanwhile, wind, biofuel, nuclear, and oil industries are lobbying Congress to support more domestic energy production. Many of the proposals are longer-range and thus unlikely to affect short-term gas prices, energy economists say.

Drilling in ANWR

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Image Library / Reuters / File
Three polar bears walk along the Beaufort Sea coast, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in this undated handout photo provided by the Alaska Image Library of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

When it comes to expanding oil exploration in America, few areas have gotten more contentious debate than Alaska's pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Middle East unrest and resulting higher pump prices demonstrate why more Alaskan oil production is needed – including drilling in ANWR's coastal plain, says Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) of Alaska. Her bill to open the refuge for oil exploration was immediately countered by opponents' bills seeking to put it off limits.

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