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Wednesday
Mar072012

Despite Setbacks, Obama Pushes Alternative Energy in North Carolina

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson(MOUNT HOLLY, N.C.) -- Visiting the key battleground state of North Carolina Wednesday, President Obama urged Americans to embrace alternative energy sources and lessen their dependence on oil, calling it a “fuel of the past.”

As rising gas prices become a key issue on the campaign trail, the president argued that using less oil is an important part of the solution.

“We’ve got to develop every source of American energy; not just oil and gas, but wind power and solar power, nuclear power, biofuels. We need to invest in the technology that will help us use less oil in our cars and our trucks, in our buildings, in our factories. That’s the only solution to the challenge, because as we start using less, that lowers the demand, prices come down,” the president told workers at the Daimler Trucks manufacturing plant in Mount Holly, N.C.

His words come in the wake of the scandal surrounding the failure of Solyndra -- a solar company his administration is accused of propping up with hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars -- and the bankruptcy of three other alternative energy companies his administration backed.

Obama announced new incentives to encourage consumers to buy alternative-energy cars, calling on Congress to increase and expand the current tax credit for purchasing “advanced vehicles” from $7,500 to $10,000 -- days after Chevrolet said it was slashing production of its poor-selling Volt -- a vehicle the president personally drove off an assembly line in a show of support.

Obama also announced a new $1 billion challenge to spur communities to invest in clean-vehicle infrastructure, such as charging stations. “We’re going to give communities across the country more of an incentive to make the shift to more energy-efficient cars,” he said.

The president continued to defend his “all-of-the-above” strategy against Republican attacks on his energy policy. “If somebody tells you we’re not producing enough oil, they just don’t know the facts,” he said.

“A key part of our energy strategy has been to increase safe, responsible oil production here at home,” he said. “Under my administration, America’s producing more oil today than any time in the last eight years. Under my administration, we’ve quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs to a record high. We’ve got more oil rigs operating now than we’ve ever seen.”

Obama has withered blistering criticism for his cancelling of the Keystone oil pipeline, which supporters on both sides of the aisle would have boosted oil supplies and provided needed jobs for thousands.

While Obama won North Carolina in 2008, he did so by the narrowest margin he had in any state, and his poll numbers there have since declined.

A new Elon University poll shows 48 percent of North Carolinians disapprove of the way the president is handling his job and just 45 percent approve. When it comes to the economy, 51 percent disapprove of the job the president is doing, while 43 percent approve.

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