JOINT BASE ANDREWS NAVAL AIR STATION WASHINGTON, Md. — Using a hybrid military jet fighter as his backdrop, President Barack Obama unveiled a sweeping new energy policy Wednesday that includes reliance on renewable resources but also the expansion of oil drilling off the Atlantic coastline and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama also announced plans to expand exploration for oil reserves off the mid- and south-Atlantic coastline and off Alaska’s North Slope. But Alaska’s Bristol Bay — a touchstone for environmentalists and drilling advocates — will be protected from any such plans.

“Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth, produce jobs, and keep our businesses competitive, we’re going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy,” Obama said. “This announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy.”

Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar pitched the moves as essential to national security. Salazar said most Americans are “still filling our cars with fuel from deserts half a world away.”

Defense Department officials said they’ve already taken key steps toward more environmentally friendly fuels. Last week, Air Force officials in Florida conducted the first official test flight of an A-10C Thunderbolt II with a synthetic fuel blend.

The hydrotreated renewable jet fuel, made from processed camelina plants, was mixed with conventional jet fuel to see the effects of the alternative blend. Air Force officials said the test pilot saw no changes in how the plane handled or operated. Further tests are scheduled in coming months.

“Now, the Pentagon isn’t seeking these alternative fuels just to protect our environment,” Obama said. “They are pursuing these homegrown energy sources to protect our national security. Our military leaders recognize the security imperative of increasing the use of alternative fuels, decreasing energy use, and reducing our reliance on imported oil.”

Currently, the Air Force uses about 2.4 billion gallons of jet fuel a year. Air Force officials have set a goal of using synthetic, alternative fuels for roughly half of stateside flight demands — about 400 million gallons — by 2016. Navy aviation officials have set a similar goal for 2020.

The Air Force aims to certify all of its aircraft to use alternative fuels by 2012.

Obama also posed alongside an Army light armored vehicle running on biofuels, one of a number of hybrid vehicles being tested by the Defense Department. The hybrid jet — an F-18 “Green Hornet” — will be flown for the first time on April 22, Earth Day.

Officials hope the aircraft will be the first plane to fly faster than the speed of sound on a half-biomass fuel mix.

The new energy plan also includes 5,000 new hybrid vehicles for the government fleet, and increased fuel efficiency standards for new cars.

The change in drilling regulations upsets a 20-year ban limiting drilling along coastal areas beyond the Gulf of Mexico.

Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Station Washington — formerly known as Andrews Air Force Base — is home to Air Force One and is the launching point for most high-level U.S. dignitaries trips overseas. The base’s name was changed last fall, as part of the ongoing base closure process, to reflect its multi-service mission.

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