The Obama administration, on the defensive amid higher gasoline prices, on Saturday said it will pursue policies that could boost domestic oil production.

President Obama, in his weekly radio address, said his administration would expand drilling opportunities in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, speed up continuing evaluation of oil resources in the Atlantic and provide incentives to oil companies to develop energy on the leases they currently own.

Republicans dismissed the president’s measures and continued to criticize his administration over its oil and gas drilling policy, saying it has failed to encourage domestic drilling.

Also as part of the White House push, the U.S. Interior Department plans to hold lease sales in the western and central Gulf of Mexico that had been postponed in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, senior administration officials said. Several oil companies had assumed these lease sales would be abandoned.

The administration will also extend the length of leases held by companies already operating in the Gulf to account for disruptions following the oil spill, an administration offical said.

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