President Barak Obama announced in his weekly radio address last Saturday that he will call for new ways to help reduce the price of gasoline for consumers by expanding US oil production in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska.
Three Pronged Approach
Responding to Republican demands to do something to bring down the continuing rise in prices at the pump, Obama is now pushing for increased domestic production of oil while still following his administration’s policies of reducing oil consumption and increasing the use of renewable energy sources.Republicans have been demanding for some time that Obama’s administration bring oil prices under control as soon as possible, even if it means dipping into the US oil surplus or increasing domestic oil production, both of which ideas have been criticized by analysts as ineffective in solving the problem of ever rising oil prices in the long run.
Demand to Do Something
But slipping ratings in the polls, the upcoming re-election campaign and the pressure from Republican legislatures have finally brought Obama to the conclusion that expansion of domestic oil production may just be a necessary evil, at least for the time being.Obama announced that he would ask government officials to streamline the process of issuing permits for drilling in Alaska.”I am directing the Department of Interior to conduct annual lease sales in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, while respecting sensitive areas, and to speed up the evaluation of oil and gas resources in the mid and south Atlantic,” Obama said in the weekly address.”I believe that we should expand oil production in America — even as we increase safety and environmental standards.”
Opening Up Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico
The National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska (NPRA) is an area of 23 million acres which was originally set aside in 1923 to be a dedicated source of oil for the US military. It is in the northwestern corner of Alaska close to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR,) an area in which the Bush administration tried to begin to develop for oil exploration, but was opposed by environmental protection groups.Obama has held fast to his commitment to not drilling in the refuge. “Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is off the table,” a senior administration official said.The NPRA is not holy ground, however. Due to rising crude oil prices the amount of oil that can be recovered economically from the area has increased, making it a more viable option for drilling.After the BP oil spill oil exploration was seriously curtailed in the Gulf of Mexico for about 6 months.”We plan to lease new areas in the Gulf of Mexico as well, and work to create new incentives for industry to develop their unused leases both on and offshore,” Obama said.