By Andrew Restuccia - 05/06/11 08:39 PM EDT
The Obama administration says it is working dilligently to issue offshore drilling permits, noting that companies must comply with beefed-up safety standards put in place in the aftermath of last year's Gulf oil spill.
Vitter's comments underscore the widening divide between Republicans and Democrats on energy policy amid rising gas prices and record oil industry profits.
While President Obama has said domestic oil and gas production is necessary in the short term, he has blasted Republicans over a series of bills that would dramatically expand offshore drilling. House Republicans approved the first of those bills Thursday.
“We can’t just drill our way out of the problem,” Obama said during an energy policy speech in Indiana Friday. “If we’re serious about addressing our energy problems, we’re going to have to do more than drill.”
Both Republicans and Democrats have sought to show they are taking action to lower gas prices, which have nearly reached an average of $4 a gallon in the United States.
The Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department's statistical arm, says expanded domestic oil and gas production will have little near-term effect on gas prices.