This includes setting high, fuel-efficiency standards, the clean energy investments in the stimulus bill and the recent announcement of loan guarantees for new nuclear reactions.
"I would say that this comprehensive approach is a lot less 'Drill, baby, drill,' and more drill where it's responsible, promote efficiency, invest in clean energy, and create jobs of the future," White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton told reporters. "I know that doesn't fit on a T-shirt quite as well, but that's a lot more about what President Obama thinks is the right direction for this country."
Environmental groups were swift in their reply.
"We're very disappointed to see important areas like the Arctic coast and the Mid and South Atlantic stay open to oil drilling," said Michael Brune, executive director of the environmental group Sierra Club. "Drilling our coasts will doing nothing to lower gas prices or create energy independence. It will only jeopardize beaches, marine life and coastal tourist economies, all so the oil industry can make a short-term profit."
Republican leaders voiced approval -- but quickly said the administration needs to do more.
"Senate Republicans have long supported efforts to find more American energy, and use less; we believe we must do both," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement. "Today's announcement is a step in the right direction, but a small one that leaves enormous amounts of American energy off limits. And the proof of the administration's announcement will be in the implementation."
House Minority Leader John Boehner, D-Ohio, joined in: "Opening up areas off the Virginia coast to offshore production is a positive step, but keeping the Pacific Coast and Alaska, as well as the most promising resources off the Gulf of Mexico, under lock and key makes no sense at a time when gasoline prices are rising and Americans are asking 'Where are the jobs?'"
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose chants of "drill, baby, drill" became somewhat of a mantra during the 2008 presidential campaign, sided with Boehner.
"Rep.Boehner spot-on Obama goal=cram thru job-killing, energy-depleting, burdensome Cap & Tax scheme on heels of Obama's new'pro-drilling'msg," Palin wrote on Twitter.com today.
Industry groups hailed the president's announcement, albeit with cautious optimism.
"The announcement by President Obama and [Interior] Secretary Salazar is a positive development," American Petroleum Institute's president and chief executive Jack Gerard said in a statement. "We look forward to reviewing the details of the proposal, and we stand ready to work with them to make this a reality."
Most Americans support increased offshore drilling. A Pew poll last month found that nearly two-third of Americans, about 63 percent, favored more offshore drilling for oil and gas. At the same time, 78 percent also supported increased funding for alternative energy.
The president has reversed course several times on his offshore drilling policy. As a presidential candidate, Obama shifted his rhetoric several times on whether he would lift the oil and gas exploration suspensions in certain parts of the country.