President Barack Obama today made his most urgent appeal yet for the nation to wean itself from oil, calling it a “fuel of the past” and demanding that the United States broaden its approach to energy.

Mindful of the political dangers of high gas prices, he said shrinking demand for oil must drive the solution.

Obama, promoting his energy policies in a politically prominent state that will host the Democratic National Convention, called on Congress to provide $1 billion in grants to local communities to encourage greater use of fuel-efficient technologies. The administration’s goal is to make electric vehicles as affordable and convenient as gasoline-powered vehicles by 2020.