House Republicans are accusing President Obama of making a sham announcement to open nearly 38 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling, arguing that the same lease sale was already in the works before he took office.

Ridiculing the president for touting the Gulf lease sales as a “major announcement,” Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee said the Gulf of Mexico area in question was first set to be opened by the Bush administration, so Mr. Obama’s decision to lift the embargo he put in place after the BP oil spill will do nothing to open new areas for exploration.