Obama called for a strategy that develops "every source of American-made energy."
The "best part," he said, is that developing alternative energy sources and increasing efficiency would also boost the economy.
"I don't want to see wind turbines and solar panels and high-tech batteries made in other countries by other workers," he said. "I want to make them here."
He concluded by calling on Congress to end $4 billion in subsidies to the oil industry, and urged audience members to contact their lawmakers.
"Oil companies are making more money right now than they've ever made," he said. "On top of the money they're getting from you at the gas station every time you fill up, they want some of your tax dollars as well."
The crowd responded enthusiastically throughout the half-hour address. Rochelle Clarke, a hospitality management student from Laurel, called Obama "inspiring."
"I appreciated his focus on alternative energy, because oil is not going to sustain us forever," she said. "He makes me want to get out and do something."
After the address, Obama and Sen. Ben Cardin surprised lunchtime diners at the Texas Ribs & BBQ in Clinton. Obama ordered baby back ribs, and the pair took pictures with diners.
Cardin said he used the time with Obama to talk about the transportation funding bill now in Congress, and to answer the president's questions about Maryland politics and the legislative session in Annapolis.