Shell spent five years and more than $3.5 billion while waiting for the Environmental Protection Agency to grant a permit for drilling in Alaska. Now lawmakers in Congress hope to force the hand of EPA bureaucrats by mandating a six-month deadline to review permit applications.

The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act is set for a House vote Thursday and is expected to easily pass with bipartisan support. The White House declined to issue a veto threat Tuesday. There is a companion bill in the Senate, but its fate is uncertain. (UPDATE: The House approved the measure Wednesday night by a margin of 253 to 166 with the support of 23 Democrats.)

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) visited Heritage yesterday and sat down to talk about the high price of gasoline and why more energy production is the answer. We spoke to him about this week’s vote and what it means for consumers.

Upton also announced that his committee would move next to the North American-Made Energy Security Act, which would expedite a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. The project is designed to carry oil from Canada to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. An Energy and Commerce subcommittee approved the legislation by voice vote last week.

Speaking at yesterday’s Bloggers Briefing, Upton stressed the benefits of the pipeline expansion. The development of Canadian oil sands would create an estimated 100,000 U.S. jobs and reinforce our relationship with Canada, this country’s No. 1 source of imported oil.

The pipeline is a monumental undertaking both in terms of its construction and impact on energy markets. Canada believes it would be able to produce at least 3 million barrels a day by the end of the decade. At least 1 million barrels would make their way to U.S. markets.

Judging from recent public-opinion surveys, Americans overwhelmingly support increased production domestically and through strengthened ties with Canada. A Quinnipiac Poll this spring found 67 percent want offshore drilling to resume. And a poll commissioned by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and the American Petroleum Institute put the figure at 85 percent of Americans who believe U.S. government policies should support the use of Canadian oil.