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Administration touts energy progress

  |   March 12, 2012 at 3:55 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 12 (UPI) -- The United States cut oil imports by a million barrels a day and domestic oil production hit its highest level in 10 years in 2011, a progress report said.

The "Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future: One-Year Progress Report," released Monday, also said natural gas production reached an all-time high in 2011 and generation of renewable energy such as solar- and wind-power has doubled since 2008.

Obama noted the progress the country made in reducing its reliance on imported oil while expanding U.S.-made energy while recognizing the pain many consumers feel at the gas pump.

"Despite the gains we've made, today's high gas prices are a painful reminder that there's much more work to do to free ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil and take control of our energy future," Obama said in a statement. "And that's exactly what our administration is committed to doing in the months ahead."

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Monday indicated 65 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama's handling of rising gas prices, while 26 percent approve.

AAA's Fuel Gauge Report said the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline Monday was $3.801, up from $3.506 a month ago.

The progress report said new fuel economy standards announced last year put the nation on track to meet Obama's goal of reducing oil imports by a third in little more than 10 years, relative to when he took office.

"I think it's important for all of us to note that the domestic oil production is at an eight-year high in the United States of America. Domestic gas production is at the highest level that we have seen in recent memory," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said during a media briefing. "[We] are importing the lowest amount of oil that we have in 16 years to the United States of America."

Salazar said the United States was importing 57 percent of its oil from foreign countries in 2008 and now was importing 45 percent, calling the reduction "a dramatic achievement and one that we are very proud of."

The multi-agency report also said the departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development have completed energy upgrades in more than 1 million homes across the country since October 2009. The report said many families saw savings of more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills in the first year alone.

Among other things, the progress report said Obama's goal of breaking ground on at least four commercial-scale cellulosic or advanced bio-refineries by 2013 was a year ahead of schedule. The report said the projects and associated demonstration and pilot projects will produce nearly 100 million gallons combined per year of advanced biofuels.

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