Obama counters ‘drill, baby, drill’ in preview of energy speech

House Republicans unveiled legislation Tuesday that would mandate a major widening of offshore areas available for drilling.

White House and Interior Department officials say they back expanded U.S. oil production, but are ramping up claims that oil-and-gas companies are failing to tap massive acreage that’s already under lease onshore and offshore.

The White House, in a “fact sheet” circulated early Wednesday ahead of Obama’s speech, says Interior is “developing incentives for expedited development of oil and gas production from existing and future leases.”

“For its offshore leasing program, the DOI has already begun to employ incentives, including the shortening of some lease terms to encourage earlier development, and requiring drilling to begin before an extension can be granted on a lease. DOI is also evaluating the potential use of graduated royalty rate structures, such as those adopted by the State of Texas, to encourage more rapid production,” the White House said.