JOE HANEL/Durango Herald
JOE HANEL/Durango Herald
AURORA – Calling America “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas,” President Barack Obama made a brief stop in Colorado on Thursday to promote his new emphasis on domestic energy.
His two-hour visit to Buckley Air Force base was his third Colorado stop in four months, and it came during a tour of swing states after his Tuesday night State of the Union address.
The Colorado speech served as a highlight reel from Tuesday’s address, with an emphasis on energy.
“For all our lives, America has been talking about decreasing our dependence on foreign oil,” Obama said. “Well, my administration has actually tried to do something about it.”
U.S. oil production is at an eight-year high, and the country’s reliance on foreign oil is at a 16-year low, he said.
But he said the government should end “taxpayer giveaways” to oil companies and instead help the natural-gas and renewable-energy industries.
Earlier Thursday in Nevada, Obama announced new incentives to get large trucks to run on natural gas, plus help for cities to convert their bus fleets to natural gas.
In Colorado, he also restated his call from the State of the Union for Congress to extend clean-energy tax credits.
Obama picked Buckley Air Force Base, on the far eastern edge of Denver, to highlight the military’s increasing use of renewable power. The base installed a megawatt of solar power in 2010.
But Buckley also happens to be in a crucial swing state for Obama’s re-election campaign – something that local Republicans were quick to point out.
“Barack Obama’s visit to Colorado (Thursday) is nothing but a taxpayer-funded campaign stop. We’ve heard Obama’s stump speech before, and it’s just the same empty rhetoric and failed promises,” said Colorado Republican Party Chairman Ryan Call.
The president spoke to a crowd of about 400 invited guests, a mix of active-duty troops and energy students, businesspeople and VIPs such as former Gov. Bill Ritter.
The setting was a utilitarian hangar, dressed up with a large U.S. flag behind the podium. About 200 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines sat opposite the TV cameras under a blue sign bearing Obama’s new slogan from the State of the Union, “An America built to last.”
He ended the same way he wound up Tuesday’s address, with a plea for the country to emulate the military’s spirit of unity.
“You have each other’s backs,” Obama told the troops. “That’s the same spirit that you’ll find in communities all over America. Each of us is here only because somebody was looking out for us.”