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Obama calls oil a 'fuel of the past'

MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. -- President Barack Obama made his most urgent appeal yet Wednesday for the nation to wean itself off oil, calling it a "fuel of the past" and demanding that the United States broaden its approach to energy.

Mindful of the political dangers of high gas prices, he said shrinking demand for oil must drive the solution.

Obama, promoting his energy policies in a politically prominent state that will host the Democratic National Convention, called on Congress to provide $1 billion in grants to local communities to encourage greater use of fuel-efficient technologies. The administration's goal is to make electric vehicles as affordable and convenient as gasoline-powered vehicles by 2020.

The president also proposed greater tax incentives to encourage the purchase and use of more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Gasoline prices are at their highest levels for this time of year and Obama has been traveling in recent weeks to promote energy proposals he says will reduce foreign oil dependency over the long term.

"We need to invest in the technology that will help us use less oil in our cars and our trucks, and our buildings, and our factories," Obama said. "That's the only solution to the challenge. Because as we start using less, that lowers the demand, prices come down."

The president spoke at a Daimler truck plant in Mount Holly, in a state with political implications for his re-election.

Republicans have been pointedly critical of Obama, blaming his energy policies for the spike in gasoline prices. Gingrich has argued that, as president, he would reduce the price of gasoline to $2.50 a gallon. -- AP

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