President Barack Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell - taking a break from discussing the nation's long term deficits - issued dueling statements on U.S. energy policy over the past several days, referring to changes in rules that could affect oil production, tax subsidies and research into alternative energy.

Obama favors an end to subsidies oil companies and investment in research for renewable energies, which McConnell is calling for changes that would enable greater oil production.

Energy policy has been far from the headlines in recent weeks as Democrats and Republicans engaged in debates over an upcoming deadline for raising the debt limit and tackling the nation's future deficits. The anniversary of the BP spill last week put a renewed focus on energy issues as well.

Obama on Saturday called for the end to $4 billion in annual tax subsidies to oil and gas companies and investment in renewable energy, echoing statements earlier in the week from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

That's $4 billion of your money going to these companies when they're making record profits and you're paying near record prices at the pump.  It has to stop, Obama said in his weekly Saturday Internet and radio address.

Instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy sources, we need to invest in tomorrow's. We need to invest in clean, renewable energy. In the long term, that's the answer.

McConnell said Friday said Republican proposals would unleash U.S. oil production.

First, we should seriously reform the rules and regulations holding America back from increased domestic energy production, McConnell said in a statement.

He said Republicans also wanted to block any new regulations that would drive up the costs of energy production.

As part of his February proposal for the 2012 federal budget, the Obama asked Congress to authorize funds for investing in renewable energy.

Instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy sources, we need to invest in tomorrow's. We need to invest in clean, renewable energy. In the long term, that's the answer, Obama said.

Energy companies are aware of the global push into renewables and are conducting their own research in an effort to adapt. In Government and Political Factors assessment released in 2010 to the Securities and Exchange Commission, oil major ExxonMobil described the worldwide environment for alternative energy types.

 Many governments are providing tax advantages and other subsidies and mandates to make alternative energy sources more competitive against oil and gas, ExxonMobil said.

Our future results may depend in part on the success of our research efforts and on our ability to adapt and apply the strengths of our current business model to providing the competitive energy products of the future.