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Obama pushing for more clean energy choices for consumers

LAS VEGAS — President Barack Obama on Monday accused fossil fuel interests and other critics of his energy policies of trying to restrict consumers from accessing solar, wind and other renewable sources in order to protect the status quo.

"That's not the American way," Obama said in a speech at a green-energy conference in Las Vegas. "This is about the past versus the future. America believes in the future."

The president also questioned the ideological consistency of those who champion free-market solutions, except when the free market is pointing to the wisdom of renewable energy. He singled out billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who are major donors to Republican political candidates.

"It's one thing if you're consistent in being free-market," Obama said. "It's another thing when you're free-market until it's solar that's working and people want to buy, and suddenly you're not for it anymore. That's a problem."

Fossil fuel and utility interests have been working at the state level and elsewhere to undercut clean-energy policies with arguments that the matter should be left to the free market.

The annual energy conference was hosted by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. The Nevada senator frequently targets the Koch brothers.

The political machine backed by the Kochs has said that spending across its conservative network could approach $1 billion ahead of 2016's elections.

Obama used his appearance to announce executive actions and other efforts aimed at making it easier for homeowners and businesses to invest in green-energy improvements.

The moves, which include expanding the use of energy-improvement loans, are designed to build on the clean power plant rules he announced this month to cut carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.

The actions Obama announced Monday focused on giving families and businesses more say in what types and how much power they rely on. That could mean rooftop solar panels, once largely the province of committed environmentalists, or other renewable energy innovations.