"Nations everywhere are racing to develop new ways of producing and using energy," the president said at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy. And I want America to be that nation."
Earlier in the day, the president toured a MIT research laboratory working on solar, battery and wind technology, among other things.
The research going on there, he said, is a "reminder that all of you are heirs to a legacy of innovation – not just here but across America – that has improved our health and wellbeing and helped us achieve unparalleled prosperity."
Innovators today face greater challenges than in the past, Mr. Obama said. For instance, he said, "the system of energy that powers our economy also undermines our security and endangers our planet."
Nevertheless, Mr. Obama said, innovators must step up and meet challenges such as transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable fuels, or moving from an economy that's importing oil to one that's exporting clean energy technology.
The president touted the funding provided by his economic stimulus package, which made the largest investment in clean energy in history and represented the largest single boost in scientific research in history. He also said his budget makes the research and experimentation tax credit permanent.
Mr. Obama pointed out the wide range of supporters for action on climate change and energy independence. For instance, he said, the Pentagon has declared our dependence on fossil fuels a security threat. Additionally, there are veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan campaigning to end U.S. dependence on oil.
"And we are now seeing prominent Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham joining forces" with Democratic leaders on the issue, he said, adding that, "The naysayers, the folks who would pretend this is not an issue, they're being marginalized."