Obama: Energy isn't about ‘pointy-headed’ greens against pro-drilling ‘tough guys’

Obama also more broadly said energy should not be a polarizing issue. He criticized the notion that if you support green energy you are “some pointy-headed environmentalist type, but if you are all about just drilling and getting more oil, then you are a tough guy.”

Obama’s appearance was the latest in a series of energy-related events — including a major March 30 speech at Georgetown University — that show an increased White House political emphasis on energy as gasoline prices rise.

But Obama reiterated his warning that there are no quick fixes. “Gas prices? They are going to fluctuate until we can start making these broader changes, and that is going to take a couple of years to have a serious effect,” Obama said.

Obama is touting an energy “blueprint” that emphasizes vehicle efficiency, biofuels, electric cars, low-carbon power sources, domestic natural gas, U.S. drilling and other policies.

Obama is also calling for a “clean” energy standard that would require utilities to supply 80 percent of U.S. power from low-carbon sources — such as renewables and nuclear power — by 2035, and a range of continued and expanded incentives around home and building efficiency, among other areas. He also wants to increase spending on green energy R&D.

But the “clean” standard, the funding push and other policies face substantial GOP resistance. Republicans are also launching daily attacks on Obama’s offshore-drilling policies, alleging they keep too many areas off-limits and that the administration is moving to slowly in issuing permits.

Republicans are pushing bills that would require a major expansion of offshore leasing, and House Republicans on Wednesday are expected to pass legislation that would strip EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions.

Obama’s speech emphasized the familiar White House theme that spurring the growth of green energy is vital to creating jobs and winning the race for emerging technology sectors.

“I don’t want China to be the world’s leading wind power manufacturer,” he said.

“Whatever energy source, I want us to be the best, but we will have to out-innovate the world and this plant is a good example,” Obama said.

He called for making renewable energy production and investment tax credits permanent as well, mirroring calls by other green energy advocates for providing market “certainty” around U.S. renewable power policy.