With both gas prises and anger on the rise, President Obama has decided to allow new drilling in Alaska's national petroleum reserve. Lease sales in the 23.5 million-acre reserve—which serves as home to millions of migratory birds, two caribou herds, gray wolves, and other wildlife—have been held just six times between 1999 and 2010; they'll now be held annually. A senior official said the new lease sales would not touch environmentally sensitive areas, reports the Los Angeles Times. It's just one component of an oil-production plan that touches many corners of the US, announced in Obama's weekly radio address today.
Among Obama's other moves: Speed up environmental reviews along the Atlantic Coast from North Carolina to Northern Florida so that seismic studies to determine how much oil and gas lies there can begin; extend all Gulf of Mexico and Arctic Ocean leases that were affected by a temporary moratorium on drilling imposed after last year's BP oil spill; and hold Gulf lease sales this year and next, reports the Washington Post. His announcement followed recent passage of three bills in the House that would expand and speed up offshore oil and gas drilling. The White House had announced its opposition to all three bills, and a senior administration official said Obama's plan is not a reaction to the House measures, though AP notes Obama is adopting some of the bills' provisions. (Read more domestic oil production stories.)