By Andrew Restuccia - 01/26/12 11:58 PM EST
Just hours after calling for expanded oil and natural gas production in Nevada, President Obama traveled to Colorado to extend an olive branch of sorts to his environmentalist base.
The president – speaking at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo. – vowed that renewables would be a major part of his energy platform amid frustration in the environmental community over his emphasis on drilling.
“We’re not going to cede the wind industry or the solar industry or the battery industry to China or Germany because we’re too timid to make that same commitment here in the United States," he said.
Obama pressed Congress to act quickly to pass key energy proposals, including renewable tax credits and a “clean energy standard” requiring that a large portion of the country’s power be generated from low-carbon sources like wind, solar, natural gas and nuclear.
“We’ve got to double down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising, and Congress is going to need to act,” he said.
But the president acknowledged that Congress has little appetite for major energy bills – the clean energy standard, for example, is stalled on Capitol Hill.
“We’re not going to wait for Congress,” Obama said. “We’re also going to do some things administratively.”
Echoing his State of the Union address, Obama touted the Interior Department’s plans to permit 10 gigawatts of renewable generation capacity on public lands this year. And he announced that the U.S. Navy has committed to adding 1 gigawatt of renewable power to its energy portfolio.
“It’s important for the military to do its part because we’re the largest -- our military is the largest energy consumer in the world,” he said. “So we can set a good example and help create an additional market for clean energy.”
The appearance at the air force base was carefully orchestrated to underscore the president’s emphasis on improving energy security by weaning the country off its dependence on foreign oil.
“Reducing our dependence on oil is going to strengthen our national security,” Obama said.
Obama spoke early Thursday afternoon in Las Vegas, Nev., where he promoted his commitment to expanded natural-gas production and touted the Interior Department’s next Gulf of Mexico oil-and-gas lease sale.
“We have got to have an all-out, all-in, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every source of American energy. A strategy that is cleaner and cheaper and full of new jobs,” Obama said in at a UPS facility in Las Vegas.
The president’s focus on oil-and-gas production has been met with frustration from environmental groups, who say the administration hasn’t learned from the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
“Coming only two years after the worst oil spill in U.S. history devastated the Gulf Coast—and without comprehensive reforms to government oversight and industry practices recommended by the National Oil Spill Commission and others—these moves could spell disaster for sensitive ocean areas and coastal communities,” Sarah Chasis, director of the ocean initiative at the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote on the environmental group’s website Thursday.