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Obama Administration Says Energy Reform Not Negotiable

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Monday the nation must move quickly to develop clean and innovative sources of energy after years of delay.

"We've seen enough," Obama said at a White House event intended to draw attention to his energy proposals. "We can remain the world's leading importer of foreign oil, or we can become the world's leading exporter of renewable energy."

The president's comments came following a weekend in which administration officials indicated his campaign promise to explore new sources of renewable energy is one element of his budget that is nonnegotiable. Obama is devoting much of his time these days to build support for his $3.6 trillion budget proposal.

Speaking to entrepreneurs in the fields of energy, Obama told them their country needs them to create jobs and be inventive. In turn, he said: "Your country will support you. Your president will support you."

The administration's $787 billion stimulus package includes $39 billion for the Department of Energy and $20 billion in tax incentives for clean energy.

Obama's budget calls for making a tax credit for research and experimentation permanent. Overall, the budget would invest billions in research designed to reduce climate change and guarantees loans for companies that develop clean energy technologies.

Obama and his aides have begun an aggressive effort for the president's budget that contains many of his campaign promises. The core projects are providing affordable health coverage, improving education and diversifying the nation's energy supply with a focus on so-called green jobs.

Facing some political pressure to scale back all of his priorities, the president said energy innovation cannot wait. Progress itself can take years, he said.

"Sometimes you have to fail before you can succeed," he said. "And often it takes not just the commitment of an innovator, but the commitment of a country to innovation. Often what's required is the support of government."

Obama plans to make his budget pitch with a prime-time news conference on Tuesday. His budget faces opposition from members of both parties.

Democrats worry the plan inflates deficit spending; the Congressional Budget Office estimates Obama's budget would generate $9.3 trillion in red ink over the next decade. Republicans say it would impose massive tax increases, including on polluters; Washington could raise billions from companies that use unclean fuels, what GOP leaders called a carbon tax.

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Associated Press Writer Ben Feller contributed to this report.

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