President Barack Obama shakes hands upon his arrival at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
FAIRLESS HILLS, Pa. (AP) — Pitching the promise of energy independence, President Barack Obama cautioned Wednesday that it’s going to be tough to transition from America’s oil-dependent economy and acknowledged there’s little he can do to lower gas prices over the short term.
“I’m just going to be honest with you. There’s not much we can do next week or two weeks from now,” the president told workers at a wind turbine plant. It’s a theme Obama’s struck before as he tries to show voters he’s attuned to a top economic concern with gas prices pushing toward $4 a gallon.
Obama said he wants to move toward “a future where America is less dependent on foreign oil, more reliant on clean energy produced by workers like you.” That will happen by reducing oil imports, tapping domestic energy sources and shifting the nation to renewable and less polluting sources of energy, such as wind, the president says. He has set a goal of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025.
But the president said it won’t happen overnight and if any politician says it’s easy, “they’re not telling the truth.”
“Gas prices? They’re going to still fluctuate until we can start making these broader changes, and that’s going to take a couple of years to have serious effect,” Obama said.
Obama needled one questioner who asked about gas prices, now averaging close to $3.70 a gallon nationwide, and suggested that the gentleman consider getting rid of his gas-guzzling vehicle.
“If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting 8 miles a gallon, you know,” Obama said laughingly. “You might want to think about a trade-in.”
The president spoke at a town hall meeting at Gamesa Technology Corp., a Spanish company that makes giant turbines that use wind to generate electricity. According to the White House, it is the first overseas company of its kind to set up shop in the U.S.