The White House says the current situation in the Gulf of Mexico could affect the president's efforts to expand off-shore oil drilling.

President Obama announced late last month that his administration would lift a decades-long moratorium on exploration and drilling on the Atlantic seaboard.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Thursday that the president could reassess his plans if investigators determined the cause of the oil rig spill off Louisiana's coast.

 

The president's announcement in March was met by immediate backlash from both conservatives and liberals; the former cried foul over the fact that the Pacific Coast would remain off limits from drilling, and the latter complained of the potential environmental impacts.

If the White House scales back its plan to expand drilling it wouldn't be the first time Mr. Obama has shifted his position on oil exploration. 

In the 2008 campaign, he touted clean energy initiatives and ran counter to the GOP's rally cry of "drill, baby, drill."

 "The most optimistic estimate is that we’ve got at best 3 to 4% of the world's oil reserve and we use 25% of the world's oil," he told an audience in York, Pennsylvania two months before the election.  "So we can’t drill our way out of the problem."

Gibbs said that the president's decision to expand exploration "wasn't the end" but rather the beginning of a longer process, suggesting that the plan unveiled several weeks ago wasn't set in stone.  He emphasized that proposed sites for exploration could change depending on the cause of the accident in the Gulf.