[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/09/art.boehner.gi.jpg caption="Boehner is leading a group of Republicans to ANWR."](CNN) - As congressional Republicans step up criticism of Democrats for not allowing votes on legislation that would open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration, House GOP Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, is expected to announce Thursday that he’s leading a group of 10 House Republican freshmen on a trip to ANWR next week, a senior Republican aide told CNN.
Calling the trip the "American Energy Tour," the Republican Members will stop first at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado on Friday, July 18. From there the group will travel to Alaska and visit Prudhoe Bay on Sunday, July 20th, and then embark on an aerial tour of the potential drilling area in ANWR. The group will also meet with local tribal leaders in the small community of Katovik, Alaska.
Nadeam Elshami, spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said: "Depending on how long their weekend is, there are 68 million acres already leased to oil companies that could be drilled today and which Republicans can visit - and to lower gas prices now instead of ten years from now - they should join the Speaker in calling on the President to release some oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve."
The Republican aide said the purpose of the trip is to highlight the GOP’s comprehensive approach to help lower gas prices, calling it “the all of the above energy strategy."
“This is not just about drilling in ANWR. This is a roadmap to our energy future," the aide said. “We'll be looking at our immediate short term goal, and then the longer term, looking at renewable sources like solar and wind, research in every area, in the next generation of energy technology."
Republicans going on the trip include Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fl, Rep. Mary Fallin R-Okla, Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Oh, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Co, Rep. Robert Latta, R-Oh, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Ca, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La, and Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Ne.
Boehner is expected to announce the trip at his weekly press conference on Thursday on Capitol Hill.