Obama Outlines Steps to Boost Oil Drilling

Posted May 14, 2011 at 5:00am

Under rising pressure to do something about $4 a gallon gas, President Barack Obama is proposing to accelerate some oil drilling in parts of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as an evaluation of drilling along the Atlantic coast.

“I believe that we should expand oil production in America — even as we increase safety and environmental standards,” Obama said in his weekly address.

Obama stopped short of saying he would tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — one of the few things he could do to immediately affect prices and something that many Democrats have been seeking. Nor did he change his opposition to drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A senior administration official told reporters that ANWR remains “off the table.”

Obama did announce plans to lease additional areas in the Gulf of Mexico for drilling and to develop incentives for companies to drill in areas that they have already leased. He also called again on Congress to eliminate tax breaks for oil and gas companies, noting the upcoming vote in the Senate to do so.

The announcement won’t quell critics who complain Obama’s actions taken after the BP oil spill have slowed new offshore drilling, but it does at least give him something to talk about in the face of a host of bills being passed by House Republicans on the subject.