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Old March 31st, 2010, 10:00 AM   #1
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Default Obama and the Gulf drilling ban.

Gee what a great idea.

(CNN) -- In a move that could help win Republican support for other energy initiatives, President Obama will announce plans Wednesday to open large sections of the eastern Gulf of Mexico and an area off the Virginia coast for oil and natural gas drilling.

"To set America on a path to energy independence, the president believes we must leverage our diverse domestic resources by pursuing a comprehensive energy strategy," said a statement provided by an administration official, who did not want to comment on the record ahead of the president's announcement.

"The president will announce today additional measures that will boost domestic energy production and promote clean energy innovation," the statement said.

The GOP has long championed additional domestic drilling to lessen America's dependence on outside energy sources. And while the plan could help win Republican support for other White House initiatives, it won't find many fans among environmentalists.

The president will introduce the measures during an address at Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility late Wednesday morning. He will be joined at the event by the secretaries of the interior, energy and the Navy, as well as the chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

What are your hopes for the environment?

The proposal includes lifting a 20-year ban on drilling off the Virginia coastline, while putting the clamps on sites that had been approved off the coast of Alaska.

Additionally, the Interior Department would be authorized to conduct seismic surveys off the south- and mid-Atlantic coasts to "determine the quantity and location of potential oil and gas resources to support energy planning."

The expanded offshore drilling is part of a larger effort by the White House to promote energy independence.

White House spokesmen Bill Burton and Ben LaBolt said the announcement was being made at Andrews -- the home base of presidential airplane Air Force One -- because it's an appropriate place to discuss energy security.

In addition to discussing his plans for offshore drilling, Obama is also expected to talk about the importance of making greater use of biofuels. The U.S. Air Force is currently the Pentagon's largest consumer of jet fuel, consuming 2.4 billion gallons annually, according to Burton and LaBolt. The Air Force, however, is currently attempting to transition to a greater use of alternative fuels.

In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation are set to sign an agreement Thursday establishing fuel economy standards for cars and trucks for model years 2012 to 2016.

"We are implementing policies that will greatly reduce our dependence on foreign oil," the official said, noting the White House is "leading by example" and will announce the purchase of 5,000 hybrid vehicles for the federal fleet.
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