President Barack Obama set off March 21 on a four-state tour intended to highlight his energy policy, which has been under assault in an election year issue when U.S. gasoline prices have soared to near-record highs.
Eight months out from the November presidential election, Obama was traveling to Boulder City, Nev., where he planned to pay a visit to the Copper Mountain Solar One Facility.
The Copper Mountain facility, the largest photovoltaic plant in the United States, with nearly 1 million solar panels powering 17,000 homes.
The visit allows the president to emphasize his administration's thrust on expanding renewable energy such as wind and solar power as a key plank of its energy strategy.
Later in the day, Obama planned to survey oil and gas production fields on federal lands outside of Maljamar, N.M., an area home to more than 70 active drilling rigs, where he was expected to underscore his administration's push to expand domestic oil and gas production.
On Thursday, he was to visit Cushing, Okla., area to survey a pipeline that will transport oil to the Gulf of Mexico, which will help address a bottleneck of oil that has resulted in large part from increased domestic oil production in the Midwest.
A final stop takes the president to Columbus, Ohio, home to some of the United States' most advanced energy-related research and development.
Obama has been reminding voters that U.S. oil and gas production has expanded every year he has been in the White House, and notes frequently that U.S. domestic oil production is at an eight-year high.
Obama's Republican critics have said he should be far more aggressive in tapping U.S. oil reserves.
The Democratic president has been blamed by the four Republicans vying to take his job for not keeping rising gasoline prices in check.
His poll numbers have taken a hit in recent weeks -- a direct result, pundits say, of rising prices at the pump.
U.S. motor fuel prices hit an all time high of $4.11 per gallon in July 2008, and prices in recent weeks have closed in on that figure, reaching $3.84 per gallon earlier this week.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich has vowed that if he's elected president, he has a plan to bring the price down to $2.50 a gallon.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney meanwhile, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, has called on Obama to fire his Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012