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Obama defends energy record

Associated Press Modified: March 15, 2012 at 5:32 pm •  Published: March 15, 2012

LARGO, Md. (AP) — Vigorously defending his policies, President Barack Obama ridiculed critics of renewable energy sources Thursday, calling them naysayers and comparing them to the flat-earthers of yesteryear.

Obama did not mention his detractors by name, merely referring to them as "professional politicians."

But his targets were clear.

"A lot of the folks who are running for a certain office who shall go unnamed, they've been talking down new sources of energy," Obama told a crowd of students at Prince George's Community College in Washington's Maryland suburbs.

"They dismiss wind power. They dismiss solar power. They make jokes about biofuels. They were against raising fuel standards. I guess they like gas-guzzlers," he said.

One of his most vocal critics recently has been Republican presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has referred to Obama as "President Algae" for speaking of research that one day would allow oil and gas to be developed from algae.

Obama argued that the U.S. is producing more oil than at any time in the past eight years and has quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs.

Republican candidates seeking the White House criticized the sharp rise in gas prices on Obama's watch. The average retail price for a gallon of gas was $3.81 on Wednesday, 50 cents higher than a month ago.

Gingrich, at a campaign appearance in Illinois, dismissed the president's remarks as "intellectual nonsense" and said Obama belongs to "the Flat Earth Sierra Club Society."

"Ask the president why is Saudi oil good and American oil bad?" he said. "Why is Saudi drilling good and American drilling bad?"

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