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API scoffs at Obama's lease sale

API scoffs at Obama's lease sale
President Barack Obama reads from a teleprompter at Buckley Air Force Base on January 26, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. President Obama is using his western trip to promote the broad ideas contained in his State of the Union Address to create jobs, improve education and teachers, and create incentives for renewable energy. Colorado is a swing state critical to President Obama's re-election in November. UPI/Gary C. Caskey | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The American Petroleum Institute welcomed plans for a lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico but also said U.S. energy ambitions are lackluster.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced Thursday the opening of 38 million acres for oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico and a contest for natural gas technology. The president said from Las Vegas that his actions on Gulf of Mexico exploration "could result in a lot more production of domestic energy."

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Erik Milito, upstream director for the API, said the plan for the new lease sale in June was "smart policy" for enhanced U.S. energy security.

"Unfortunately, overall, there is nothing new here," he added.

Milito noted the lease sale outlined by the Obama administration was originally included in a program that became effective in 2007. Obama's critics said the White House was in essence trying to generate political capital based on decisions made by the previous administration.

The API said Obama's lease announcements left more than 85 percent of offshore areas off limits to energy explorers.

"A true step forward would be a plan that makes available areas offshore Virginia, throughout the Atlantic and Pacific and the whole eastern Gulf (of Mexico)," Milito said.

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