October 15, 2009
Obama Directs Federal Agencies to Reduce Emissions
by Robert Kropp
Executive Order requires Federal agencies to set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets within
President Obama's determination to act decisively on climate change, already apparent in recent
rulings by the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) and proposals by the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC), took another step forward last week, when he issued an Executive Order "to
establish an integrated strategy towards sustainability in the Federal Government and to make
reduction of greenhouse gas emissions a priority for Federal agencies."
The actions by the Obama
administration, which have thus far included regulatory action on mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions reporting and reduction, have come at a time when the likelihood of the US Senate passing
meaningful climate change legislation in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in December seems
The Executive Order requires that within 90 days, Federal agencies
set reduction targets of scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by fiscal year 2020, relative to a 2008
baseline. The Executive Order advises Federal agencies to consider reductions of energy intensity
in buildings, increased usage of renewable energy sources, and reductions in the use of fossil
fuels by agency vehicles.
In addition, Federal agencies are required to submit plans for
the reduction of scope 3 GHG emissions within 240 days. Scope 3 emissions are those emitted by such
indirect sources as supply chains and corporate air travel.
The Executive Order also
requires agencies to meet a number of specific targets, including a 30% reduction in vehicle fleet
petroleum use and a 26% improvement in water efficiency by 2020, and a 50% recycling and waste
diversion by 2015.
The potential environmental impact of the Executive Order can be
discerned by the sheer size of the Federal government's holdings. It occupies nearly 500,000
buildings, operates more than 600,000 vehicles, and purchases more than $500 billion per year in
goods and services.
"As the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy, the Federal
government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use
environmentally-responsible products and technologies," said President Obama. "This Executive Order
builds on the momentum of the Recovery Act to help create a clean energy economy and demonstrates
the Federal government’s commitment, over and above what is already being done, to reducing
emissions and saving money."
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