U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday announced plans to expand domestic oil production and speed up the evaluation of oil and gas resources in the country as part of his long-term plan to reduce US’ reliance on foreign oil.

In his weekly address to the nation, Mr. Obama said he has directed the Department of the Interior to conduct annual lease sales in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, one of the potential areas for oil.

He asked authorities to give companies more time to meet higher safety standards for exploration and drilling, the administration is extending drilling leases in areas of the Gulf of Mexico that were impacted by the temporary moratorium, as well as certain leases off the coast of Alaska.

Mr. Obama said he is establishing a new inter-agency working group to ensure that Arctic development projects meet health, safety and environmental standards.

The past few months, rising gas prices have put an added strain on American families.

“Without a doubt, one of the biggest burdens over the last few months has been the price of gasoline. In many places, gas is now more than $4 a gallon, meaning that you could be paying more than $60 to fill up your tank,” Mr. Obama said.

“These spikes in gas prices are often temporary, and while there are no quick fixes to the problem, there are a few steps we should take that make good sense,” he said.

“We should increase safe and responsible oil production here at home. Last year, America’s oil production reached its highest level since 2003,” he said, adding he believes that the U.S. should expand oil production in America — even as we increase safety and environmental standards.

“The third step we should take is to eliminate the tax payer subsidies we give to oil and gas companies. In the last few months, the biggest oil companies made about $4 billion in profits each week. And yet, they get $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies each year.

“This isn’t fair, it makes no sense. Before I was President, the CEOs of these companies even admitted that the tax subsidies made no sense.

Well, next week, there is a vote in Congress to end these oil company giveaways once and for all. And I hope Democrats and Republicans come together and get this done,” Mr.Obama said.

Arguing that American people shouldn’t be subsidising oil companies at a time when they’re making near-record profits, Mr. Obama said as a nation, one should be investing in the clean, renewable sources of energy that are the ultimate solution to high-gas prices.

“That’s why we’re investing in clean energy technology, helping businesses that manufacture solar panels and wind turbines, and making sure that our cars and trucks can go further on a tank of gas — a step that could save families as much as $ 3,000 at the pump,” he said.