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The president said the expense is necessary, along with measures such as higher fuel-economy standards for automobiles, to wean the nation from its reliance on foreign oil and create good-paying jobs.

Mr. Obama also acknowledges that his energy policy is a work in progress.

“Some of the big projects that we set for ourselves during the [2008] campaign have not yet been done,” Mr. Obama told Democratic campaign donors in New York City last week. “We still don’t have an energy policy that is suitable for the 21st century. We still have to invest in clean energy. … We still have that project to deal with climate change in a serious way. Those things haven’t changed.”

He also mentioned building electric cars in the U.S. as a priority.

Jim DiPeso, policy director of Republicans for Environmental Protection, said Mr. Obama has allowed Congress to take too much control of the energy agenda, thus diluting it.

“He has left the initiative to Congress, where 535 lawmakers have 535 ideas about the right path to take,” Mr. DiPeso said.

Whether environmentalists’ disappointment with the president will have an impact on his re-election isn’t known.

A Gallup poll in March gave Mr. Obama a 55 percent approval rating on his handling of the environment, down from 79 percent in his first year in office. (President George W. Bush received a 31 percent approval rating on the environment in his final year in office.) But Mr. Obama’s drop on this issue has mirrored his overall decline in job approval.