Muckraker: Grist on Politics

President Obama today used a visit to the Department of Energy to blast Republican opposition to energy efficiency measures contained in the economic stimulus legislation.

Obama, who was at DOE to sign a memorandum [PDF] ordering the department to set new energy efficiency standards for appliances, rebutted GOP complaints about a proposal to use some of the stimulus money to replace the federal automobile fleet with more efficient vehicles.

“This is what they call pork,” said Obama. “You know the truth. It will not only save the government significant money over time, it will not only create manufacturing jobs for folks who are making these cars, it will set a standard for private industry to match. And so when you hear these attacks deriding something of such obvious importance as this, you have to ask yourself — are these folks serious? Is it any wonder that we haven’t had a real energy policy in this country?”

Instead, Obama spend the bulk of the event rallying support for the economic stimulus plan, which the Senate may vote on as early as this evening.

“After decades of dragging our feet, this plan will finally spark the creation of a clean energy industry that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next few years, manufacturing wind turbines and solar cells, for example — millions more after that,” said Obama. “These jobs and these investments will double our capacity to generate renewable energy over the next few years.”

As for the energy efficiency directive, DOE will have to set new rules for nine types of appliances by August 2009, including lamps, ovens, microwaves, boilers, and dishwashers. He also directed the agency to set standards for other appliances, which is expected to affect more than 30 product categories

“This will save consumers money, this will spur innovation, and this will conserve tremendous amounts of energy,” said Obama. “We’ll save through these simple steps over the next 30 years the amount of energy produced over a two-year period by all the coal-fired power plants in America.”