Obama pushes Senate on climate bill, signals compromises on drilling

“I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change,” he added. “But here’s the thing – even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future. Because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.  And America must be that nation.”

Obama also emphasized support for new nuclear power plants, “clean” coal technologies and wider offshore drilling. The comments come as Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are seeking a bipartisan compromise that blends emissions limits with increased domestic energy production, including more oil, natural gas and nuclear energy.

Obama made numerous calls for continued investment in “clean energy jobs” – he touted the billons of dollars in energy spending in the 2009 stimulus law and plans to boost home energy efficiency through jobs legislation.

“But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country,” Obama said, drawing applause when mentioning nuclear power.

“It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development,” he said, drawing more applause.

 “It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies.  And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America," he said.

The House passed a sweeping bill in June that creates an economy-wide, cap-and-trade plan. It also includes new support for low-carbon energy technologies. 

Obama also reiterated calls to repeal oil industry tax breaks. The oil industry strongly opposes such plans.