White House pivots to energy policy with 'clean vehicles' focus

President Obama, who is under fire from Republicans over gasoline prices, will “outline his plan for America’s energy security” in a speech Wednesday and then tout advanced vehicles Friday at a UPS facility in Maryland, the White House said.

Wednesday’s speech at Georgetown University will mark Obama's second high-profile remarks this month on energy. He addressed increased oil and gasoline prices at a March 11 press conference.

The White House effort to seize control of the political narrative on energy comes amid unfolding Republican legislative plans and constant GOP attacks on administration policies. 

A top House Republican — Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) — is unveiling legislation Tuesday to expand U.S oil-and-gas drilling.

Obama’s energy agenda includes expanded deployment of advanced vehicles such as plug-in cars through consumer incentives and other policies, and increased federal spending on green energy R&D at a time when Republicans are calling for cuts.

He will focus on advanced vehicles Friday. “The President will visit a UPS shipping facility in Landover, MD where he will view vehicles from AT&T, FedEx, PepsiCo, UPS and Verizon’s clean fleets and deliver remarks to the companies’ employees,” the White House said.

Obama also used his State of the Union address to call on Congress to craft a “clean energy standard” that would require utilities to greatly expand generation of power from low-carbon sources, and technologies including renewables, nuclear, and natural gas would get full or partial credit toward the mandate. The plan faces significant GOP resistance.

Obama will speak amid ongoing claims by Republicans and pro-drilling Democrats who say the administration is dragging its feet in the issuance of offshore oil-and-gas drilling permits.

The Interior Department is requiring that companies meet a host of beefed-up safety standards in the wake of the BP spill. Interior has recently issued a half-dozen deepwater drilling permits for the kind of projects that were halted after the spill began, but Republicans and the industry want faster action and more areas made available for drilling.