May 20, 2011- Continued public pressure over high gas prices has caused the President to tell his administration to increase U.S. oil production by holding more lease sales in Alaska’s federal petroleum reserve and by extending leases off the Alaska coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.
On Saturday, he said these measures will help to cut the U.S. use of imported oil over the long term. He was also quick to point out that this will not help to make any immediate reduction in the gasoline prices. The national average is close to $4 per gallon.
This announcement coincides with three bills that were recently passed in the House of Representatives that is controlled by the Republicans. The bills will speed up and expand offshore gas and oil drilling. The Republicans also acknowledged the fact that even though these are aimed at reducing the high cost of gasoline, they will not be immediate.
The White House is not in agreement with the three bills which most likely will not receive the votes needed to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Obama is nevertheless adopting provisions from each of the three bills.
The extension of leases in the Gulf has been on a case by case basis but the Interior Department has been instructed to give a blanket one year extension to all of them. New safety regulations in Alaska due to the BP mishap have also delayed drilling in that region so Obama is also granting one year lease extensions there.