Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Obama Makes Good on Executive Order to Reduce the Federal Government's GHGs

As nations were preparing to communicate their emissions reductions strategies to the UNFCCC ahead of the January 31 deadline, President Obama was leading by example with Federal government emissions reductions.

Executive Order 13514 on Federal Sustainability was signed on October 5, 2009, it required each Federal Agency to submit a 2020 greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution reduction target from its estimated 2008 baseline by January 4, 2010.

On Friday January 29, 2010, less than 2 days after his State of the Union address, President Obama made a pledge to reduce the Federal government's GHG emissions by 28 percent over the next decade.

According to a press release from Whitehouse.gov, the Federal Government is working towards a clean energy economy. "Actions taken under this Executive Order will spur clean energy investments that create new private-sector jobs, drive long-term savings, build local market capacity, and foster innovation and entrepreneurship in clean energy industries."

As the single largest energy consumer in the US economy, the Federal Government spent more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008 alone. Achieving the Federal GHG pollution reduction target will reduce Federal energy use by the equivalent of 646 trillion BTUs, equal to 205 million barrels of oil, and taking 17 million cars off the road for one year. This is also equivalent to a cumulative total of $8 to $11 billion in avoided energy costs through 2020.

“As the largest energy consumer in the United States, we have a responsibility to American citizens to reduce our energy use and become more efficient,” said President Obama. “Our goal is to lower costs, reduce pollution, and shift Federal energy expenses away from oil and towards local, clean energy.”

Federal Departments and Agencies will achieve greenhouse gas pollution reductions by measuring their current energy and fuel use, becoming more energy efficient and shifting to clean energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal.

Greenhouse gas emissions serve as a useful metric to measure the effectiveness of agency energy and fuel efficiency efforts as well as renewable energy investments. Agencies are already taking actions that will contribute towards achieving their targets, such as installing solar arrays at military installations, tapping landfills for renewable energy, putting energy management systems in Federal buildings, and replacing older vehicles with more fuel efficient hybrid models.

As a next step, the Office of Management and Budget will validate and score each agency’s sustainability plan, assuring a long-term return on investment to the American taxpayer. To ensure accountability, annual progress will be measured and reported online to the public.
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