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Obama turns attention to energy in key states

LAS VEGAS — President Barack Obama says his administration will open a large swath in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas exploration and development, fending off criticism that his policies have stifled domestic energy production.

Obama is discussing the sale of the oil and gas drilling leases for nearly 38 million acres in the Gulf and promoting a highway corridor for vehicles running on liquefied natural gas.

It comes days after Republican criticized Obama for rejecting a cross-country oil pipeline that would have delivered Canadian tar sands oil to refineries in Texas.

The president says the nation needs an “all-of-the-above” energy policy, a strategy he calls “cleaner and cheaper and full of new jobs.”

Obama is at a Las Vegas UPS center that has a refueling station for natural gas vehicles.