Facing continued public unhappiness over gas prices, President Barack Obama is directing his administration to ramp up U.S. oil production by extending existing leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska's coast and holding more frequent lease sales in a federal petroleum reserve in Alaska.
Obama said Saturday that the measures "make good sense" and will help reduce U.S. consumption of imported oil in the long term. But he acknowledged anew that they won't help to immediately bring down gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon in many parts of the country.
The oil industry praised Obama's move as a first step but said much more was needed to boost oil production as part of a broader energy strategy.
"If given access to key shale reserves, if we can get the oil sands pipeline built that will allow us to import more crude from Canadian oil sands, and if we can access areas of the US that are currently off limits, our industry can create over a million new jobs and generate over $194 billion in revenue," said Erik Milito, upstream director for the American Petroleum Institute.
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