Obama announces steps to speed US oil production

(AP) - President Barack Obama says he'll extend allGulf leases that were affected by a temporary moratorium ondrilling imposed after last year's BP oil spill.

Obama is directing his administration to ramp up U.S. oilproduction by extending existing leases in the Gulf and offAlaska's coast and holding more frequent lease sales in a federalreserve in Alaska. He's facing continued public unhappiness overgas prices.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama says themeasures "make good sense" and will help reduce consumption ofimported oil in the long term. But he acknowledged anew that theywon't provide any immediate relief.

The Republican-controlled House has passed three bills thatwould expand and speed up offshore oil and gas drilling. The WhiteHouse opposes all three but Obama is adopting some of the bills'provisions.

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