BOULDER CITY, Nev., March 21 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama opened his so-called all-of-the-above energy strategy tour Wednesday in Boulder City, Nev., site of the largest U.S. solar energy plant.
Speaking at the Copper Mountain solar plant, Obama said the strategy is a multifaceted approach to energy independence "that relies on producing more oil and gas here in America, but also more biofuels, more fuel-efficient cars, more wind power and, as you can see, a whole lot more solar power."
Obama noted the Copper Mountain facility produces enough electricity to power about 17,000 homes, while a second plant under construction nearby will power another 45,000 homes and a third plant in development will "one day" power about 66,000 homes.
There are, he said, more than 5,600 solar companies nationwide and enough solar energy is being produced to power 730,000 U.S. homes.
"So this is an industry on the rise," Obama said. "It's a source of energy that's becoming cheaper; we all know it's cleaner. And more and more businesses are starting to take notice."
The president, who is up for re-election this year, chided "some politicians" who don't want more public investment in solar and other alternative energy sources.
"Some of these folks want to dismiss the promise of solar power and wind power and fuel-efficient cars," Obama said. "In fact, they make jokes about it. One member of Congress who shall remain unnamed called these jobs 'phony' -- called them phony jobs. 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."
He said federal investment in developing new technologies will ultimately result in new industries that will create jobs.
"It will create opportunities for middle-class Americans and folks who want to get into the middle class," Obama said. "So I want everybody here to know that as long as I'm president, we will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I'm not going to give up on the new to cede our position to China or Germany or all the other competitors out there who are making massive investments in clean energy technology. I refuse to see us stand by and not make the same commitment."
Obama said his strategy does not mean abandoning domestic production of oil and gas, but he does want to end the $4 billion in subsidies the industry receives each year.
"We are going to continue producing oil and gas at a record pace," he said. "That's got to be part of what we do. We need energy to grow.
"But an energy strategy that focuses only on drilling and not on an energy strategy that will free ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil, that's a losing strategy. That's not a strategy I'm going to pursue."