When it comes to passing laws to promote the switch to clean energy to prevent climate change, President Obama may have constitutionally limited powers, but one power he does have is the power to issue an executive order controlling the actions of all of our federal agencies – like the Departments of Defense, Energy, Justice, Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
And he used it. In 2009, he issued Executive Order number 13514 – that requires all of them to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2020, from a 2008 baseline. The federal government is the single largest user of energy in the US, accounting for $24 billion in energy use.
Last year, the agencies lobbied him for an easier target, and Obama agreed to reduce the average percentage to 28 percent, between all the agencies. To meet the greenhouse gas reduction requirement, agencies from the department of corrections to the military have been moving towards using more fossil-free fuels, hybrid vehicles, electric cars, and adding more solar and wind power. The executive order requires them to measure, report, and reduce their GHG emissions.
Some agencies will be able to exceed the target, to balance those that cannot. Our extremely well-funded military for example has a well developed plan to meet a 30 percent target, by switching to new innovative biofuels and other technologies: Tina Casey has covered these successes extensively here.
Yesterday, the EPA reported its completed plans. EPA established a slightly lower than average target among the federal agencies, a 25 percent GHG emission reduction target by fiscal year 2020. To reach this target, the Agency’s primary strategy is to reduce its facility energy intensity by 3 percent annually through fiscal year 2020.
Energy conservation using energy efficiency measures was the method chosen.
Mandatory Commissioning: Since fiscal year 2003, EPA has required mandatory commissioning on all projects that include laboratory mechanical systems. Commissioning is a process to check the proper installation, function, and operation of building systems.
Infrastructure Replacement Projects and Mechanical System Upgrades: EPA is pursuing major mechanical system replacement projects as well as operating efficiency projects at all of its facilities.
Energy Assessments and Re-Commissioning: EPA conducts energy assessments, often at high-energy-intensity and large laboratories, and then conducts re-commissioning at each EPA facility every 4 years as required under Energy Independence and Security Act.
Unlike the military, which is well funded, and likely to remain so, the EPA is subject to defunding. The report pointed out that meeting the requirement will be contingent on the full funding of the plan’s energy efficiency projects. The Republican budget proposed steeper cuts to the EPA than to any federal agency. This may be the reason for its relatively timid plans and lower than average target.
Nevertheless, the EPA’s 25% reduction is still a steep reduction by US standards, and it shows what can be achieved by what presidents can control. By 2020, the success of these federal agencies – which handle a sizable percent of the nation’s GDP – should make it clear that such reductions are in fact possible. Reductions of three percent a year are not that daunting!
Hopefully, as a result, by 2020; their successes would impact climate legislation written by our congress – the legislation that mere presidents cannot control. But I’m not holding my breath.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
EV Obsession Daily!
Tesla Sales in 2023, 2024, and 2030
CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.