Washington Post headline:
In an effort to defuse Republican and oil industry pressure over drilling permits and soothe public anger over gasoline prices, President Obama will order the Interior Department to conduct annual lease sales in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve and speed up seismic work that is a precursor to drilling off the south and mid-Atlantic coasts.
In his Saturday radio address, Obama will also extend oil company leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska where work was delayed by the drilling moratorium the president imposed during the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill resulting from a blowout on a BP well.
He will also order the Interior Department to hold a Gulf of Mexico lease sale this year and two in 2012, thus completing the department’s five-year plan for the area.
The moves are part of an effort to fulfill the president’s pledge to increase domestic oil production and reduce oil imports, even as he acknowledges that it won’t alter gasoline prices in the short-run. They also resemble positions the president took just a month before the BP spill in the gulf.
A senior administration official said the administration believed it could move ahead in Alaska in “attractive areas” for drilling while remaining “consistent with environmental values.”
But Obama’s administrative actions come amid political hubbub over offshore drilling. Last week, the House passed three sweeping measures that would allow more drilling off the nation’s Alaskan, Pacific and Atlantic coasts as well as in the Gulf of Mexico. The bills would also make it more difficult for drilling opponents to mount legal challenges based on environmental reviews.
We. Shall. See.