WASHINGTON -- High oil prices and their effect on retail gasoline prices continued to dominate President Barack Obama's weekly address on Saturday, as they have for the last few weeks. He laid out his strategy to expand responsible and safe domestic oil production, leveraging existing authorities as part of his long-term plan to reduce the nation's reliance on foreign oil.
"Without a doubt, one of the biggest burdens over the last few months has been the price of gasoline.... While there are no quick fixes to the problem, there are a few steps we should take that make good [image-nocss] sense," Obama said.
"First, we should make sure that no one is taking advantage of consumers at the pump," he said. "That's why we've launched a task force led by the Attorney General that has one job: rooting out cases of fraud or manipulation in the markets that might affect gas prices, including any illegal activity by traders and speculators."
(Click here for previous CSP Daily News coverage of the task force.)
"Second, we should increase safe and responsible oil production here at home," he said. "Last year, America's oil production reached its highest level since 2003. But I believe that we should expand oil production in America--even as we increase safety and environmental standards."
To meet the second goal, the President is directing the Department of the Interior to conduct annual lease sales in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve while respecting sensitive areas, to speed up the evaluation of oil and gas resources in the mid and south Atlantic and to create new incentives for industry to develop their unused leases both on and offshore.
Also, to give companies more time to meet higher safety standard for exploration and drilling, the administration is extending drilling leases in areas of the Gulf of Mexico that were impacted by the moratorium, as well as certain leases off the coast of Alaska. And, he is establishing a new interagency working group to ensure that Arctic development projects meet health, safety and environmental standards.