President Obama is looking to bolster U.S. oil drilling, announcing a preemptive strike against bolder efforts from Capitol Hill as consumer unrest deepens over the price at the pump. The White House will move forward without congressional action on a set of ideas espoused by Republicans and oil-state Democrats to expand oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and potentially parts of the Atlantic seaboard. It’s the closest Obama has come to rivaling his short-lived pro-drilling stance that ended with the BP oil spill. Obama is also firing up the liberal Democratic base by urging Congress to repeal billions of dollars in oil-industry tax incentives and to raise fees against companies that do not act quickly on drilling leases they own.
[It’s] his fourth weekly address in a row and fifth in seven weeks to touch on energy issues. A senior administration official told reporters that the administration is also looking to complete by the end of the year the first new lease sale in the Gulf since the BP spill – and to have two combined sales finished in the western and central Gulf of Mexico by the middle of next year. But the GOP-passed bills go further and would require lease sales off the coast of Virginia that the administration canceled in the wake of the BP spill. The measures would also require more areas off the Eastern Seaboard and the California and Alaska coastlines be opened to new drilling. House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) – the lead sponsor of the House-passed drilling bills – called Obama’s actions ‘baby steps’ … in a statement. More from Politico here.