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Transcript of President Obama's remarks in Cushing, Okla., March 22, 2012

Oklahoman Modified: March 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm •  Published: March 22, 2012

And the reason is we’ve got an oil market that is global, that is worldwide. And I’ve been saying for the last few weeks, and I want everybody to understand this, we use 20 percent of the world’s oil; we only produce 2 percent of the world’s oil. Even if we opened every inch of the country -- if I put a oil rig on the South Lawn -- (laughter) -- if we had one right next to the Washington Monument, even if we drilled every little bit of this great country of ours, we’d still have to buy the rest of our needs from someplace else if we keep on using the same amount of energy, the same amount of oil.

The price of oil will still be set by the global market. And that means every time there’s tensions that rise in the Middle East -- which is what’s happening right now -- so will the price of gas. The main reason the gas prices are high right now is because people are worried about what’s happening with Iran. It doesn’t have to do with domestic oil production. It has to do with the oil markets looking and saying, you know what, if something happens there could be trouble and so we’re going to price oil higher just in case.

Now, that’s not the future that we went. We don’t want to be vulnerable to something that’s happening on the other side of the world somehow affecting our economy, or hurting a lot of folks who have to drive to get to work. That’s not the future I want for America. That's not the future I want for our kids. I want us to control our own energy destiny. I want us to determine our own course.

So, yes, we’re going to keep on drilling. Yes, we’re going to keep on emphasizing production. Yes, we’re going to make sure that we can get oil to where it’s needed. But what we’re also going to be doing as part of an all-of-the-above strategy is looking at how we can continually improve the utilization of renewable energy sources, new clean energy sources, and how do we become more efficient in our use of energy. (Applause.)

That means producing more biofuels, which can be great for our farmers and great for rural economies. It means more fuel-efficient cars. It means more solar power. It means more wind power -- which, by the way, nearly tripled here in Oklahoma over the past three years in part because of some of our policies.

We want every source of American-made energy. I don’t want the energy jobs of tomorrow going to other countries. I want them here in the United States of America. (Applause.) And that’s what an all-of-the-above strategy is all about. That’s how we break our dependence on foreign oil. (Applause.)

Now, the good news is we’re already seeing progress. Yesterday, I went, in Nevada, to the largest solar plant of its kind anywhere in the country. Hundreds of workers built it. It’s powering thousands of homes, and they’re expanding to tens of thousands of homes more as they put more capacity online.

After 30 years of not doing anything, we finally increased fuel-efficiency standards on cars and trucks, and Americans are now designing and building cars that will go nearly twice as far on the same gallon of gas by the middle of the next decade. And that's going to save the average family $8,000 over the life of a car. (Applause.) And it’s going to save a lot of companies a lot of money because they’re hurt by rising fuel costs, as well.

All of these steps have helped put America on the path to greater energy independence. Since I took office, our dependence on foreign oil has gone down every single year. Last year, we imported 1 million fewer barrels per day than the year before. Think about that. (Applause.) America, at a time when we’re growing, is actually importing less oil from overseas because we’re using it smarter and more efficiently. America is now importing less than half the oil we use for the first time in more than a decade.

So the key is to keep it going, Oklahoma. We’ve got to make sure that we don't go backwards, that we keep going forwards. If we’re going to end our dependence on foreign oil, if we’re going to bring gas prices down once and for all, as opposed to just playing politics with it every single year, then what we’re going to have to do is to develop every single source of energy that we’ve got, every new technology that can help us become more efficient.

We’ve got to use our innovation. We’ve got to use our brain power. We've got to use our creativity. We've got to have a vision for the future, not just constantly looking backwards at the past. That's where we need to go. That's the future we can build.

And that's what America has always been about, is building the future. We've always been at the cutting-edge. We're always ahead of the curve. Whether it's Thomas Edison or the Wright Brothers or Steve Jobs, we're always thinking about what's the next thing. And that's how we have to think about energy. And if we do, not only are we going to see jobs and growth and success here in Cushing, Oklahoma, we're going to see it all across the country.

All right? Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)


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