The power of presidents is overstated. Only congress actually has the power to pass legislation to make America safer from climate change or oil company gouging. And about half are paid to not pass it.
So, when congress after congress is unable to pass climate legislation to reduce greenhouse gases, the blame can not be laid at any president’s feet. As just one result of the congressional failure, American fuel mileage has long lagged even below China’s – even a decade ago, back when we were a developed nation and China wasn’t.
But, although Obama cannot pass the climate legislation he might want, an Executive Order governing federal agencies is within his jurisdiction, and in 2009, he lost no time in passing Executive Order mandating a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases emitted by the government, the nation’s single largest energy user. The effects are starting to show up, on military bases and other government operations.
Today’s result comes from the General Services Administration, which buys cars for all the federal agencies to lease. Executive Order 13154 mandates, among other details, a 30% reduction in gasoline use by 2020. The 35,000 vehicles the GSA has bought this year use 21% less gasoline than last year. And last year, according to the GSA report, the agency averaged 22.5% of the gasoline use of 2008, the baseline year.
They average 23.4 miles per gallon, up from 19.1 miles per gallon, which may not sound very efficient, but the military is a big buyer of vehicles, as is the post office. Hummers and delivery vans are not known for efficiency.
The new vehicles will save 2.4 million gallons of gas and about $9 million annually in taxpayer dollars. About 22,000 of the 35,000 vehicles ordered by GSA were advanced technology vehicles, defined as electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles and vehicles that can run on E85 (85 percent ethanol).
- EPA Submits Below-Average Plan to Cut its Own GHGs 25% by 2020 (cleantechnica.com)
- New Drilling Bills Won’t Help with Gas Prices (switchboard.nrdc.org)
Susan Kraemer writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate and GreenProphet and has been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design she brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention: solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times. Follow Susan @dotcommodity on twitter.