Obama heads west to sell energy plan

President Obama will travel to Nevada and Colorado on Thursday to sell the public on the energy proposals he outlined in this week’s State of the Union address.

The president’s energy plan is designed to simultaneously please his core group of liberal supporters and appeal to moderates who support expanded domestic oil and natural gas production. White House officials have signaled that Obama’s energy platform will be a key part of his reelection campaign.

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It’s a difficult balance to strike. But the White House hopes Obama can effectively sell the plan Thursday, the second day of the president’s tour of five battleground states to tout his State of the Union policy proposals.

Obama, echoing Republican talking points, will cast the plan as a “true all-of-the-above approach that will enhance our energy security and promote jobs,” according to a senior administration official.

The first leg of Obama’s trip will be devoted to oil and natural gas. The president will travel to a UPS facility in Las Vegas that received a $5.6 million under the stimulus law to construct a public liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling station and develop natural-gas vehicles.

Obama will put meat on the bones of his State of the Union call to develop the country’s natural-gas reserves and encourage natural-gas transportation. He will propose incentives for natural-gas trucks and buses and announce that a “corridor” aimed at promoting the use of natural-gas vehicles from California to Utah is “open for business,” according to the official.

The president will also tout the administration’s plans to expand offshore oil and gas drilling, announcing that the Interior Department will hold a lease sale in the Central Gulf of Mexico on June 20, the official said. It’s the last lease sale scheduled as part of Interior’s 2007-2012 offshore leasing plan.

The offshore drilling plans have been met with criticism from environmental groups, which allege that Obama is pandering to advocates of expanded drilling, and Republicans, who say the president’s plans are at odds with his record on energy.

On the second leg of Thursday's trip, Obama will travel to Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., where he will emphasize his plans to promote renewable energy.

There, he will announce that the U.S. Navy has committed to adding 1 gigawatt of renewable power to its energy portfolio, the official said, arguing that the move will boost energy security.

The president will call for various tax incentives, including $5 billion in clean energy manufacturing tax credits and an extension of the production tax credit, according to the official. Obama will also tout Interior’s plans to permit 10 gigawatts of renewable generation capacity on public lands this year.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu will also promote Obama’s energy agenda Thursday. Chu will tour the Sandia National Laboratories’ National Solar Thermal Test Facility in Albuquerque, N.M., and he’ll hold a town hall at the University of New Mexico.

This story has been corrected to reflect that the lease sale being announced is part of Interior's 2007-2012 lease plan.