Oil industry to Obama: Expand offshore drilling

AP News
Posted: Jan 04, 2011 6:34 PM
Oil industry to Obama: Expand offshore drilling

The Obama administration should reconsider its decision not to pursue offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or along the nation's East Coast, the oil industry's chief trade group said Tuesday.

Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said the group will press lawmakers and administration officials to expand drilling along the Atlantic coast and in Alaska. If agreement cannot be reached, Gerard said he would support language favored by some congressional Republicans to mandate expanded drilling.

Obama's decision last month reversed an earlier plan to expand drilling. It was prompted by the Gulf oil spill.

The decision "sends job creation elsewhere . and closes the door on economic growth," Gerard said. He spoke as the group released its annual "State of American Energy" report.

Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, said the change in position was based on lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and ensures that offshore exploration can go forward in areas where active leases already exist.

"We remain focused on raising the bar for safety and environmental protection in offshore drilling, while also continuing to take aggressive steps to strengthen the agency responsible for overseeing offshore energy production," she said.