Stimulus plan calls for more fuel-efficient federal vehicles, but critics call it pork.

President Obama today signed a presidential memorandum requesting the Department Of Energy to set higher efficiency standards for everyday household appliances. He spoke at the Energy Department to an audience of about 220 staffers.

Mr. Obama also spent several minutes speaking about the importance of producing more fuel-efficient vehicles, including plug-in hybrids.

“Through investments in our mass transit system to boost capacity, in our roads to reduce congestion, and in technologies that will accelerate the development of innovations like plug-in hybrid vehicles, we’ll be making a significant down payment on a cleaner and more energy independent future.

“Now, I read the other day that critics of this plan ridiculed our notion that we should use part of the money to modernize the entire fleet of federal vehicles to take advantage of state of the art fuel efficiency. This is what they call pork. 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?

“For the last few years, I’ve talked about these issues with Americans from one end of this country to another. And Washington may not be ready to get serious about energy independence, but I am. And so are you. And so are the American people.”

“Inaction is not an option that is acceptable to me and it’s certainly not acceptable to the American people—not on energy, not on the economy, not at this critical moment.”

President Obama then called on Congress to “rise to this moment.” He reiterated that the scale and approach of his energy proposals are required to lead America toward energy independence and economic recovery.