March 30, 2011 / 10:16 PM / 6 years ago

Washington Extra - Energy epiphany

WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) - First, want to alert you to exclusive by Reuters Correspondent Mark Hosenball that President Barack Obama has authorized secret support for Libya rebels [ID:nN30179454]

Next onto energy -- if you thought you'd heard it before, you have.

President Barack Obama said today the United States must reduce its dependence on oil. And even he acknowledged this is not a new idea.

"Richard Nixon talked about freeing ourselves from dependence on foreign oil. And every president since that time has talked about freeing ourselves from dependence on foreign oil," he said at Georgetown University.

"Politicians of every stripe have promised energy independence, but that promise has so far gone unmet," Obama said.

As all of those presidents found, it is no small task to wean the world's largest oil consumer and importer away from that addiction -- especially since U.S. domestic oil production peaked in the early 1970s.

So why will this time be any different?

Obama has set a goal that he says is "reasonable," "achievable," and "necessary," of reducing oil imports by one-third over a decade.

(Just a reminder that even if he wins a second term, Obama will be out of office in the middle of that decade, so fulfilling that goal would be left to another administration).

Goals are good, but actions matter. Will Obama be The One to reduce U.S. oil dependence? He thinks so.

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Here are our top stories from Washington:

Obama authorizes secret support for Libya rebels

President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters. [ID:nN30179454]

Obama calls for deep cuts in U.S. oil imports

President Obama proposed to cut oil imports by a third over 10 years, setting an ambitious goal that eluded his predecessors as high gasoline prices threatened to undermine the economic recovery. [ID:nN30123808]

U.S., Colombia talks making 'good progress'

The United States and Colombia are moving toward an agreement in talks on anti-union violence in Colombia that has blocked approval of a free trade deal. "We're making very good progress," U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told the Reuters Latin American Summit. "We're very encouraged with what we've heard from the Colombians thus far." [ID:nN30608341]

Shutdown threat recedes as U.S. budget talks resume

The threat of a government shutdown seemed to recede as budget talks resumed in Congress and aides from both parties said they were more optimistic that a compromise can be found. [ID:nN30138348]

Bearing olive branch, Warren braves U.S. Chamber

Elizabeth Warren went before some of her sharpest critics to defend the independent funding of the financial consumer watchdog agency she is setting up for the Obama administration. At a Chamber of Commerce event attended by scores of financial industry lobbyists keen to rein in her agency, Warren said she is a strong supporter of business competition and that she believes she has that in common with the chamber. [ID:nN30132266]

First Republican presidential debate postponed

The first scheduled debate of the 2012 Republican presidential nominating race has been postponed until September because of a lack of candidates. [ID:nN30168767]

To see what we are blogging on Front Row Washington, go to blogs.reuters.com/frontrow/

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