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Obama Calls for US Energy Efficiency

U.S. President Barack Obama is mandating higher energy efficiency standards for common household appliances as part of a broader effort to overhaul the nation's use of fuel and electricity. Mr. Obama says the economic recovery package before Congress makes a critical down payment on his energy initiative.

In the quest to make America energy independent and reduce carbon emissions, fossil fuel-consuming cars and trucks get the most attention. President Obama says everyday appliances like refrigerators and washing machines are an important part of the equation, as well.

In a trip to the Department of Energy, the president said he has signed an executive memorandum to strengthen efficiency standards for home appliances.

"This will save consumers money," he said. "This will spur innovation, and this will conserve tremendous amounts of energy. We will 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."

In addition, Mr. Obama noted that the economic recovery package under Senate consideration would fund energy conservation efforts for government buildings as well as American homes. He said the bill will foster the development of alternative fuels to end what he called "the tyranny of oil in our time."

"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," President Obama said.

But the president said the entire effort is at risk due to growing congressional resistance to the economic recovery package, which passed in the House of Representatives last week on a party-line vote.

In an impassioned plea for congressional action, Mr. Obama said that the time for talk is over. He said the ideas of yesterday have failed, and that the American people have endorsed a new plan - his plan - for tackling the nation's problems.

"The American people have rendered their judgment," he said. "And now is the time to move forward, not back. Now is the time for action."

Senate Republicans, and even some Democrats, are criticizing some spending proposals in the recovery package as wasteful and of questionable economic impact.

Mr. Obama says not all elements of the $800-plus billion bill will please everyone, but that core elements of the proposal are needed to save jobs, jump-start the economy, and lay a foundation for sustained growth.