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Obama opens acreage to oil exploration

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U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday announced the opening of 38 million acres for oil exploration in the gulf and a contest for natural gas technology. UPI/Brian Kersey | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/3b5d9a8c662a6f42484fdf1d37c0b963/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday announced the opening of 38 million acres for oil exploration in the gulf and a contest for natural gas technology. UPI/Brian Kersey | License Photo

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday announced the opening of 38 million acres for oil exploration in the gulf and a contest for natural gas technology.

Obama, speaking to workers at the United Parcel Service facility in Las Vegas, hammered home themes from Tuesday's State of the Union Address, part of a three-day swing across the country stressing his proposals.

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Obama said his actions on Gulf of Mexico exploration "could result in a lot more production of domestic energy." But, he noted, the United States has only 2 percent of the world's oil reserves so the necessity of developing alternatives remains imperative.

"A great place to start is with natural gas," Obama said. "Some of you may not have been following this, but because of new technologies, because we can now access natural gas that we couldn't access before in an economic way, we've got a supply of natural gas under our feet that can last America nearly 100 years. …

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"Last April, we issued a challenge to shipping companies like UPS. We said if you upgrade your fleets to run on less oil or no oil at all, we're going to help you succeed. We want to help you with that experiment. So we started out with five companies that accepted the challenge. And of course, UPS was one of the first," he said, adding 14 companies are now involved.

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Obama said Energy Secretary Steven Chu will announce a competition that "encourages our country's brightest scientists and engineers and entrepreneurs to discover breakthroughs for natural gas vehicles."

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