President Obama began a two-day tour-de-energy today as the administration put a full-court press on an issue that could leave him vulnerable in a campaign season: energy costs that keep stinging consumers.
Or, as press secretary Jay Carney put it on Air Force One en route to the first stop in Nevada, it’s an effort to show “indisputable, incontrovertible, immutable, inexorable facts” that Obama is increasing domestic oil production and reducing dependence on foreign oil.
“I understand that, as we’ve seen for weeks now, there is a sustained effort to try to achieve some political gain out of the challenge presented to average folks out there by the price of gas at the pump,” Carney said. “But the reality is oil and gas production in the United States has increased under President Obama; reliance on foreign oil has decreased significantly under President Obama. We have made clear that some of the trend, especially in the increase in domestic production, is due to policies of the previous administration, but it is due also to the actions that this administration has taken.”
And the White House was determined to hammer that messaging into the minds of voters this week.
Obama’s first stop was the Copper Mountain solar plant in Boulder City, Nev. He toured the plant for a few minutes, accompanied by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, rolling up his sleeves and asking questions of company officials.
The White House preceded this first stop by sending fact sheets to reporters: the Obama Administration’s All-of-the-Above Approach to American Energy and the Obama Administration Commitment to American Made Energy.
“Today, President Obama highlighted his Administration’s focus on a sustained, all-of-the-above approach to developing American energy, which has included doubling renewable electricity generation, increasing oil and gas production on federal lands and waters, and reducing our reliance on foreign oil, most notably through the historic fuel economy standards the President has established, which will nearly double the efficiency of the vehicles we drive and save families $1.7 trillion at the pump,” the latter said, highlighting nuclear energy, “developing a smarter grid” for energy, biofuel research and “building vehicles with materials that are stronger and lighter.”
Obama stopped to deliver remarks “at this flat, beautiful land,” marveling at the solar “industry on the rise” and taking credit for opening up federal lands to solar businesses.
“One member of Congress who shall remain unnamed called these jobs ‘phony’ — called them phony jobs,” the president said. “I mean, think about that mindset, that attitude that says because something is new, it must not be real. If these guys were around when Columbus set sail, they’d be charter members of the Flat Earth Society.”
“We know that some discoveries won’t pan out,” he quipped. “There’s the VCR and the Beta and the — all that stuff.”
Obama encouraged making investments “in stuff that is new, and we stop subsidizing stuff that’s old.”
Aside from hitting at oil companies and saying that the U.S. doesn’t have enough oil reserves to meet its demand anyway, the president saved his drilling remarks — assured to have a friendlier tone — for his next stops.
After Nevada, the president traveled to Roswell, New Mexico, to tour oil and gas production fields on federal lands outside of Maljamar.
On Thursday, Obama makes a strategic stop in Cushing, Okla., to expound upon his halfway flip-flop on one portion of the Keystone project.
Here, Obama will announce an executive order “on improving performance of federal permitting and review of infrastructure projects,” as well as a presidential memorandum directing federal agencies to expedite the portion of the Keystone XL pipeline from Cushing to the Gulf of Mexico.