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Obama Wants to Fund Energy-efficient Communities

Grants would help communities set up advanced fueling stations.

by on Mar.08, 2012

President Obama announces a new $1 billion National Community Deployment Challenge to help boost the deployment of clean, advanced vehicles all over America.

With interest in cars such as the Chevrolet Volt waning, President Barack Obama went on the offensive Wednesday, announcing a new $1 billion fund to help 15 local communities encourage greater use of energy-saving technologies.

During a visit to the Daimler Freightliner plant in Mount Holly, N.C., Obama said the country has to find a way to reduce its dependence on oil.

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“If you make a commitment to buy more advanced vehicles for your community – whether they run on electricity or biofuels or natural gas – we’ll help you cut through the red tape and build fueling stations nearby,” the president said.

But Obama said he also wants to extend tax breaks on fuel efficient cars to company trucks, such as the ones Freightliner builds.“We’ll offer tax breaks to families that buy these cars, companies that buy alternative fuel trucks like the ones that are made right here at Mount Holly. So we’re going to give communities across the country more of an incentive to make the shift to more energy-efficient cars.

Obama’s visit comes just days after General Motors announced plans shut down the Detroit assembly line where it builds the Volt and the Opel version of the car, called the Ampera.

GM is temporarily stopping Volt production to bring supply in line with demand. The company sold about 7,600 Volts in 2011, well short of the goal of 10,000. It’s sold 1,600 so far this year.

Shortly after launching the Volt last year, GM announced that it planned to ramp up Volt production to 60,000 units for 2012, with three-quarters of them slated for the U.S. market.

But automakers have long known that as fuel prices go, so goes the sale of fuel efficient vehicles. Fuel prices never went above $4 per gallon in most of the country last year and have mostly been around stayed below $3.50 during what has become the driving off-season.

But analysts are predicting that gas prices could hit $5 this summer.

During his Freightliner visit, Obama called on Congress to end tax subsidies to the oil and gas industry, amounting to about $4 billion per year.

“We should put every member of Congress on record,” Obama said, according to an Associated Press report. “They can stand up for the oil companies or they can stand up for the American people and this new energy future.”


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