US President Barack Obama has announced he is proposing to expand offshore oil and gas exploration in a bid to reduce foreign energy dependency.
Giving few details, he said he would “consider potential new areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico”.
But “sensitive areas” in Alaska would be protected, he added.
Mr Obama’s proposal was attacked by Republicans as too little and by ecologists as hazardous.
A long-standing drilling ban covered the Atlantic coast, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska.
Mr Obama’s announcement could put oil and natural gas platforms in waters along the southern Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and part of Alaska, the Associated Press news agency said.
The drilling decision could help secure support for a climate change bill languishing in Congress but Republicans criticised the plan, saying it kept the biggest US offshore energy resources from being developed at a time when petrol prices were high and jobs scarce.