Obama promotes new energy plan in Pa. visit

    President Barack Obama used a visit to Penn State University to announce a new energy efficiency program.

    The tax incentives and grants aimed at improving energy efficiency by 20 percent over the next 10 years built on the “Win the Future” theme the president focused on during his State of the Union address.

    Speaking to a crowd of about a thousand students, Obama said the United States will face stiff competition from the rest of the world over the coming decades.

    “I know every young person here feels that pressure. You understand that it’s not going to be a cakewalk — this competition for the future,” he said.

    The president wants the Department of Energy to guarantee loans for small businesses that borrow to improve their buildings’ efficiency.

    Obama acknowledged energy efficiency “isn’t a sexy topic.”

    “Everybody focuses on cars and gas prices. That’s understandable. But our homes and our businesses use 40 percent of the energy,” he said. “They contribute to 40 percent of the carbon pollution that we produce, and it’s contributing to climate change.

    As part of the plan, the president wants the federal government to award competitive grants to states and municipalities that toughen energy-efficiency standards.

    Obama said that, combined with tax credits and grant programs he wants to offer, could help the country’s businesses save $40 billion a year on energy costs.

    He wants to pay for the plan by eliminating tax breaks for big oil companies.

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