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Daniel Kish, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, an industry-backed think tank, said Mr. Obama’s decision in early April to open up some new areas for oil and gas exploration while canceling a slew of Alaskan lease sales will decrease domestic oil supplies and increase U.S. imports of oil.

“Their view is the best way to reduce consumption [of fossil fuels] is to make it more expensive, and then people will use alternatives, which they consider to be morally superior,” Mr. Kish said. “The long-term consequences of this are going to be pretty significant. We’re not going to stop using oil, we’re just going to use less of our own oil and more of somebody else’s.”

Mr. Obama appears to have accepted the political reality that a “cap-and-trade” approach to global warming is not likely to happen, telling National Journal in an interview published Monday that he’ll instead work on “more bite-sized pieces” like renewable energy standards.