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Obama's gambit to marry US policies on environment and energy

The president has integrated energy security goals with environment policy, focusing on renewable power. But his effort won't succeed, analysts say, unless Congress agrees to put a price on carbon emissions.

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President Obama spoke during a tour of a solar energy firm in Acadia, Fla., last fall. He has focused on renewable power and energy security.

Gerald Herbert/AP

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True, America is still guzzling fossil fuels. But since taking office just over a year ago, President Obama has quietly set the nation's energy policy on a new course.

Even as health care dominated the news, Obama energy czar Carol Browner – working with the departments of Interior, Energy, and Transportation – has established a new, unified energy-and-environment policy. But whether this focus on renewable power and energy security can succeed depends largely on whether Congress approves climate-energy legislation that puts a price on carbon emissions, energy experts say.

"For 20 years we've been ... drifting in the wrong direction," says David Pumphrey, an energy and national-security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "This administration has turned things around. What's important is that we are ... moving in a positive direction now."

Energy accomplishments so far

He and others tick off the administration's most significant energy-related accomplishments to date:

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