Obama: Congress lacks ‘urgency’ on energy bill

Obama touted increased fuel economy standards and other steps the administration has taken using its existing authorities.

But the White House is also seeking Capitol Hill action on several measures, even though a major energy bill faces tough odds in a divided Congress.

Administration energy goals include $7,500 rebates for purchasing electric vehicles. More broadly, a top White House energy adviser recently suggested that legislation aimed at spurring deployment of electric cars could form the basis for a bipartisan energy compromise.

“I’d like to see robust legislation in Congress that actually took some steps to reduce oil dependency,” Obama said, although he did not provide specifics.

He said oil will remain a major energy source for some time even with a “full throttle” push for clean energy, but added that reducing reliance will have major benefits.

“If we had a goal, or we are just reducing our dependence on oil each year in a staggered set of steps, it would save consumers in their pocketbook, it would make our businesses more efficient and less subject to the whims of the spot oil market, it would make us less vulnerable to the kinds of disruptions that have occurred because of what happened in the Middle East this spring, and it would drastically cut down on our carbon resources,” Obama said.

The White House is also pushing for expanded green energy R&D funding, and a “clean energy standard” that would mandate a major increase in low-carbon power supplies from utilities (a measure that faces especially steep hurdles).