After Volt Debacle; Obama Calls for More Spending on Car Batteries

Fred Lucas | March 7, 2012 | 3:03pm EST
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( – President Barack Obama is discussing spending more on green energy and on electric car batteries less than a week after the bailed-out General Motors temporarily laid off 1,300 employees and halted the production of the Chevy Volt.

Obama, speaking Tuesday night to the Business Roundtable at the Newseum, and said, “folks are getting killed right now with gas prices,” acknowledging the need for more production of oil and natural gas.

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“It also means, though, we’ve got to invest in the energy sources of the future,” Obama said. “We’ve got to invest in clean energy. We’ve got to invest in efficiency. We’ve got to make sure that the advanced batteries for electric cars, for example, are manufactured here in the United States.”

Earlier on Tuesday, during a White House news conference, Obama asserted he did not want gas prices higher while he was running for reelection.

“Just from a political perspective, do you think a president of the United States going into reelection wants gas prices to go up higher? Is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?” Obama asked rhetorically to the room full of reporters and cameramen.

During the Tuesday night speech to the Business Roundtable, the business leaders had the opportunity for a question and answer. However the accompanying press pool was ushered out of the room so as not to hear the Q & A. According to the White House pool report, the president was overheard saying, “This doesn't look like a tweeting crowd.”

Obama also touted the auto bailout for saving the industry in the United States. He said a similar comeback can happen in American manufacturing.

“What's happened in the auto industry can happen in other areas, and we've got to make sure that we understand even though manufacturing will not be the same percentage of our economy as it once was, it still remains this incredible multiplier for services and consumers and prosperity all across America,” Obama said.

In light of rising gas prices, Obama has also come under criticism for promoting algae as a solution to the fuel problems, claiming 17 percent of U.S. oil imports could be replaced with biofuels.

“We’re making new investments in the development of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel that’s actually made from a plant-like substance, algae - you’ve got a bunch of algae out here,” Obama told an audience at the University of Miami in late February. “If we could figure out how to make fuel out of that, we’ll be doing all right.”

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