Obama sets out energy future for less dependency on oil

Barack Obama President Barack Obama said it was time for America to "get serious" about its energy demands

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President Barack Obama has vowed to reduce US oil imports by one-third in little more than a decade.

He said in a speech in Washington that America had to "get serious" about a secure and affordable energy future.

Higher oil prices are threatening to hamper US economic recovery and there is growing dissatisfaction among car drivers with pump prices.

Mr Obama said the US must move towards getting 80% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

"We cannot keep going from shock to trance on the issue of energy security, rushing to propose action when gas prices rise, then hitting the snooze button when they fall again," he said during a speech at Georgetown University.

Mr Obama said that presidents and politicians had for years promised energy independence through finding cleaner and more renewable sources.

Petrol prices in the US have shot up 50 cents a gallon this year, reaching a national average of $3.58 a gallon last week.

"We have to discover and produce cleaner, renewable sources of energy," Mr Obama said. "And we have to do it quickly."

After Mr Obama's speech, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell accused the Obama administration of trying to "lock up" US energy.

He said plans like that which Mr Obama outlined to develop alternative energy in the future did little to relieve present high petrol prices.

"The guy who's trying to make ends meet wants to know what you're going to do for him today, not 24 years from now," he said, quoted by the Associated Press.

"We need to look elsewhere for our energy. The problem is that Democrats don't want us to use the energy we have. It's enough to make you wonder whether anybody in the White House has driven by a gas station lately."

As well as increasing the use of alternative energies such as biofuels and making vehicles more efficient, Mr Obama said the US must raise domestic oil production.

An Interior Department report published on Tuesday said that more than two-thirds of offshore exploration licences in the Gulf of Mexico have yet to be acted upon by oil companies.

The department said that the sites could potentially hold more than 11 billion barrels of oil and 50 trillion cubic feet (1.42 trillion cubic meters) of natural gas.

Mr Obama also embraced an expansion of nuclear power, but added that there would be a thorough review of power plants to ensure any lessons from the crisis in Japan were learned.

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