Likely GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty is using rising gas prices to poke holes in President Obama's energy policy.

The former Minnesota governor, like other GOP hopefuls, said Monday that the Obama administration should ramp up domestic oil drilling to reduce prices at the pump, which are approaching $4 per gallon on average nationally.

"This is a president who has sat on his hands as it relates to drilling," he said on WLS Radio in Chicago. "You know, we've got a country that's got some enormous energy assets that are not being exploited or leveraged to the benefit of our country and to our people."

Meanwhile, the White House has announced it is taking action to help tamp down prices — Obama on Thursday ordered the Justice Department to probe whether speculation in oil markets is contributing to rising prices.

Press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that high profits by oil-and-gas companies expected to be announced this week will make the case for ending federal subsidies for the industry.

But Pawlenty accused Obama and Democrats of being "mostly beholden to what I would consider militant or unreasonable environmentalists," expressing doubt they would expand drilling.

"This is a country that needs to get much more serious about Americanizing our energy sources and doing everything we can to develop our own energy here and add more supply, and that would help," he said.