With gas prices rising yet again, President Barack Obama made a new pitch for his energy plan to University of Miami students Thursday afternoon, telling them that the U.S. will take control of its energy future not with more drilling but with "a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy."
"We can’t just allow ourselves to be held hostage by the ups and downs of the world oil market. We have to keep developing new sources of energy," Obama said at the BankUnited Center Fieldhouse. "We have to keep developing new technology that helps us use less energy. We have to keep relying on the American know-how and ingenuity that comes from places like the University of Miami."
He said his administration has made progress on that front, pointing out that in 2010 the country's "dependence on foreign oil was under 50 percent for the first time in 30 years," and that "because of the investments we've made, the use of clean, renewable energy has nearly doubled – and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it."
"We’re taking every possible action to safely develop a near hundred-year supply of natural gas – something that experts believe will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade," the president said.
Obama took a shot at Republicans over their drill-first mentality, saying "you can bet that since it's an election year, they're already dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas."
"I’ll save you the suspense: Step one is drill, step two is drill, and step three is keep drilling," he said. "We heard the same thing in 2007, when I was running for president. We hear the same thing every year."
He added that Americans aren't stupid and "know that's not a plan – especially since we’re already drilling. It’s a bumper sticker."
UM students waited in line for hours to see Obama's speech, part of a busy, one-day visit he is making to South Florida. It was to wrap up with an event at the home of Democratic fundraiser Chris Korge in Pinecrest.
He promoted his support of the first new American nuclear power plant in three decades and of high-tech battery manufacturing, and the enactment of "the toughest fuel economy standards in history for our cars and pickup trucks – and the first standards ever for heavy-duty trucks."
Obama's energy policy has centered on conservation, increased domestic oil production, and reducing foreign imports, in addition to supporting renewable energy such as wind, solar, and biofuels.
He said he didn't have a silver bullet to bring down gas prices, but said, "What we do have in this country are limitless sources of energy, and a boundless supply of ingenuity and imagination that we can put to work developing that energy."
In one of the humorous moments of his speech, Obama remarked, "In another life, I’d stay in Orlando for the NBA All-Star Weekend, but these days I have a few other things on my plate."
Later Thursday, Obama took the stage at about 4 p.m. at a fundraiser at the Coral Gables Biltmore Hotel. He said Miami is a microcosm of the country.
“People from all over the world coming here, seeking opportunity,” Obama said. “And the reason people continue to come to America is because there’s a recognition that in America we will create the platform for people to succeed if they work hard. That is what is at stake in this election.”
In 2008 he didn’t say he would be a perfect president, Obama told the crowd, but he did pledge “I’d always tell you what I thought, I’d always tell you where I stood, and I’d wake up every day fighting as hard as I could for you. I’ve kept that promise. I’ve kept that promise.”
He concluded that if his supporters are motivated and stick with him, change will still come.
“We’re going to finish what we started,” he said.