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For Obama, it's all energy all the time

He touted the climate bill over the weekend, and new lighting standards on Monday. Republicans say the US needs more energy supplies, too.

By Staff writer / June 29, 2009

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Energy Secretary Steven Chu (l.), delivers remarks on the energy bill, in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington Monday.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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Washington

The Obama administration is doing its best to keep Washington’s focus on energy as Congress breaks for its July 4 holiday.

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On Monday, President Obama himself stepped out of the Oval Office to announce new lighting standards he said could save US consumers as much as $4 billion a year. This followed his weekly video address, released Saturday, in which he hailed the House’s recent passage of climate-change legislation.

The White House surely wants to keep pressure on the Senate so that the chamber will move forward with its own version of the climate bill after its vacation ends.

“I am confident that they, too, will choose to move this country forward,” Mr. Obama said Monday of senators.

The energy-economy link

But Obama also seldom misses an opportunity to promote a sort of unified theory of his domestic policies, with everything tied into an attempt to revive US economic growth.

The climate-change bill, federal programs to help automakers develop green technologies, and stimulus bill funds to weatherize homes – all are of a piece, in this view.

“We’ve gotten a lot done on the energy front in the last six months,” said Obama.

Hey, what about boosting supply?

Republicans, reacting on Monday, said the administration’s energy plans do not really add up. The US also needs to focus on supply, through such measures as increased oil exploration, they said.

“Conservation is only half the equation. Even as we use less energy, we need to produce more of our own,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “We have to admit there’s a gap between the clean, renewable fuel we want and the reliable energy we need.”

The new efficiency standards announced by the White House apply to fluorescent and incandescent lighting. Seven percent of all the energy used in the US goes to lighting homes and businesses, noted Obama.

“I know light bulbs may not seem sexy, but this simple action holds enormous promise,” said Obama.