Obama urges alternative energy use

CHICAGO - US President Barack Obama flew 947 kilometers alone in his 747 from Washington to Chicago, to deliver a speech on saving energy.

Envisioning cars that can go "coast to coast without using a drop of oil," Mr Obama urged Congress to authorise spending $2 billion over the next decade to expand research into electric cars and biofuels to wean automobiles off gasoline.

Mr Obama, expanding on an initiative he addressed in his State of the Union speech last month, said the United States must shift its cars and trucks entirely off oil to avoid perpetual fluctuations in gas prices. Citing policies that already require automakers to increase gas mileage, he said he expects that by 2025, Americans will only have to fill up their cars half as often.

"We've set some achievable but ambitious goals," Mr Obama said, speaking at Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago

"The only way to break this cycle of spiking gas prices - the only way to break that cycle for good - is to shift our cars entirely, our cars and trucks, off oil," the president said.

His speech, with its focus on energy, was designed to draw attention to what the White House says is one of Mr Obama's top agenda items for his second term.

That focus, however, has been overshadowed as the administration and Congress work on an immigration overhaul, gun legislation and deficit-reduction measures.

It was overshadowed today by his decision to fly the largest airplane in the US commercial fleet in order to make the speech.

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Writer: AP
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