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Obama to Meet GOP Halfway on Energy Issues

February 15, 2010
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In a White House session with congressional leaders last Tuesday to form consensus on key legislative issues, President Obama said he would be willing to meet Republicans halfway on energy issues. He further said Democrats and Republicans needed to come together on legislation that promotes both clean and traditional sources of energy.

"And I'm willing to move off some of the preferences of my party in order to meet them [Republicans] halfway. But there's got to be some give from their side as well. That's true on health care; that's true on energy," he told reporters following the session intended to loosen the legislative gridlock on Capitol Hill.

"I think that on energy there should be a bipartisan agreement that we have to take a 'both/and approach' rather than an 'either/or approach,'" Obama said.

"I am very firm in my conviction that the country that leads the way in clean energy...is going to win the race in the 21st century global economy," the president said, but "we're going to need some of the old, traditional energy sources as we're developing these new ones and ramping them up...We can't overnight convert to an all-solar or all-wind economy. That just can't happen. We're going to have needs in these traditional sources" of energy.

"So the question then is, are we going to be able to put together a [legislative] package that includes safe, secure nuclear power, that includes new technologies so that we can use coal...opportunities to increase our oil and natural gas production in a way that is environmentally sustainable...[These] should be part of a package with our development of clean energy.

"And my hope is that my Republican friends, but also Democrats, say to themselves, 'Let's be practical and let's do both. Let's not just do one or the other'...Over time I think the transition is going to be [toward] more and more clean energy and over time fossil fuels become less prominent in our overall energy mix. But we've got to do both" for now.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky "said something very nice in the [White House] meeting about how he supports our goals on nuclear energy and clean coal technology and more drilling to increase oil production. Well, of course, he likes that; that's part of the Republican agenda for energy, which I accept," Obama said.

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