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Obama calls for clean energy push, calls out Koch brothers for opposing solar power

By Amy R. Connolly
United States President Barack Obama makes remarks at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act at the White House in Washington, DC on Aug. 6. Monday, Obama accused the Koch brothers and other conservative interests of pushing back against regulations that would enable growth in the renewable energy sector. Photo by Ron Sachs/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/5bacbbd9ea6e61e5806348ea75ecb020/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
United States President Barack Obama makes remarks at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act at the White House in Washington, DC on Aug. 6. Monday, Obama accused the Koch brothers and other conservative interests of pushing back against regulations that would enable growth in the renewable energy sector. Photo by Ron Sachs/UPI | License Photo

LAS VEGAS, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- President Obama lashed out against critics of his energy policies and high-power conservatives, specifically the Koch brothers, for pushing back against regulations that would enable growth in the renewable energy sector.

The president, speaking at a green energy conference in Las Vegas Monday night, said the explosive growth of renewable energy, particularly solar, "has some big fossil fuel interests pretty nervous," specifically singling out billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch of Koch Industries. Koch backers have battled against clean energy mandates in several states, likening them to healthcare mandates under Obamacare.

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"When you start seeing massive lobbying efforts backed by fossil fuel interests, or conservative think tanks, or the Koch brothers pushing for new laws to roll back renewable energy standards, or to prevent new clean energy businesses from succeeding, that's a problem," he said. "That's not the American way. That's not progress. That's not innovation. That's rent seeking. That's standing in the way of progress," Obama said.

Obama's speech to about 1,000 people at the National Clean Energy Summit came after his administration announced several measures to encourage solar power construction, including the Clean Power Plan, which requires states to cut carbon emissions by about 32 percent. The president has focused on climate change in his second term.

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Obama will fly to New Orleans on Thursday, on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, to speak about global warming and next week to Alaska.

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