Kicking off two-day tour touting his energy policies, President Obama on Wednesday reiterated his commitment to expanding America's renewable energy sources, telling a crowd in Boulder City, Nevada that "as long as I'm president, I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy."
Mr. Obama, speaking at the Copper Mountain Solar 1 Facility in Boulder City, highlighted his administration's efforts to reduce energy on foreign oil. He also blasted his Republican rivals for approaching energy with a mentality that he cast as old-fashioned and anti-innovation.
"If some politicians had their way, there won't be any more public investments in solar energy. There won't be as many new jobs or new businesses," said Mr. Obama. "Some of these folks dismiss the promise of solar power and wind power and fuel-efficient cars. In fact, they make jokes about it. One member of Congress who shall remain unnamed called these jobs 'phony.' Called them phony jobs."
"I mean, think about that mindset, that attitude that says because something is new, it must not be real," the president continued. "If these guys were around when Columbus set sail, they'd be charting members of the Flat Earth Society."
Lauding the efforts of the workers at the Copper Mountain solar facility, Mr. Obama emphasized his faith in alternative energy sectors to create jobs and revive areas hard-hit by the recession.
"This is an industry on the rise. It's a source of energy that's becoming cheaper. We all know its cleaner. And more and more businesses are starting to take notice. They're starting to look around for more places like Boulder City to set up shop," he said. "When I took office I said, why not give these businesses some access to public lands that aren't otherwise being utilized? At the time, there wasn't a single solar project in place on public land, not one. Today, thanks to great work by Ken Salazar, we've got 16 solar projects approved. And when they're complete, we'll be generating enough energy to power 2 million homes."
"That's progress," he added.Mr. Obama's energy tour comes amid concern in the White House that rising gas prices could hurt the president's chances at re-election in 2012. Republicans pin the price hikes on the Obama administration's energy policies, which they say are to blame. Mr. Obama notes that drilling alone will not significantly bring prices down.
On Wednesday, he also accused "the flat earth society" of directing money into the pockets of oil companies, who he says are already benefiting from how much Americans are paying in gas.
"The current members of the flat earth society in Congress... they would rather see us continue to provide $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies, tax giveaways to oil companies this year," Mr. Obama said. "Four billion dollars to an industry that's making record profits, every time you fill up at the pump."
He continued: "And yet, on top of what we're paying at the pump, we're also giving them $4 billion in subsidies that could be going into investments in clean energy for the future... That doesn't make any sense. Does anybody think that makes any sense? I just want to make sure because I didn't think that was a wise use of your tax dollars."
"We have subsidized oil companies for a century," he continued. "That's long enough."
The president called for Congress to end tax credits for oil companies in favor for those who are developing clean energy resources. He also dismissed the idea that he does not support drilling in America.
"That's why we're producing more oil right now than at any time in eight years," he said. "But an energy strategy that focuses only on drilling is not an energy strategy that will free us from our dependence on foreign oil."
"That's a losing strategy," he added. "That's not a strategy I'm going to pursue."
Other stops on Mr. Obama's tour include New Mexico, Ohio, and Oklahoma.