White House Issues Executive Order to Conserve Energy and Resources

By Bill Moore

Posted: 06 Oct 2009

Yesterday the White House issued an Executive Order entitled, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance. According to the office White House press release...

The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to set a 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target within 90 days; increase energy efficiency; reduce fleet petroleum consumption; conserve water; reduce waste; support sustainable communities; and leverage Federal purchasing power to promote environmentally-responsible products and technologies.

In addition to sweeping mandates on energy, water, and resource conservation, the order takes aim at the federal government's fleet of 600,000 vehicles, as well as how its 1.8 million civilian employees get around while on official government business. Two sections of the order, Sections 11 and 12 -- reproduced below -- require all agencies of the federal government to provide within 180 days "recommendations... on how these policies and practices could be revised to support the implementation of this order and the achievement of its policies and goals."

Of interest in the context of what the Obama Administration sees as preferred vehicle technologies, is the sub-section (c) in Sec. 19, which defines what it considers an "alternative fuel vehicle":

(c) "alternative fuel vehicle" means vehicles defined by section 301 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, as amended (42 U.S.C. 13211), and otherwise includes electric fueled vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, dedicated alternative fuel vehicles, dual fueled alternative fuel vehicles, qualified fuel cell motor vehicles, advanced lean burn technology motor vehicles, self-propelled vehicles such as bicycles and any other alternative fuel vehicles that are defined by statute;

In keeping with his campaign promise to set a goal of 1.5 million plug-in hybrids on the roads of America by 2015, and his pledge to promote the greater use of electric-drive technologies in the federal government, this Executive Order adds additional reinforcement to previous moves by President Obama, including $285 million for the GSA to purchase more fuel efficient vehicles. EV World reported on which vehicles the GSA purchased, and while some of them were hybrids, most weren't; the largest single number being Chevy HHRs.

While the GSA purchase was deliberated intended to quickly pump federal dollars into the ailing economy, this new Executive Order clearly has longer range objectives in mind, out to 2020. Beginning late in 2010, the GSA will be able to begin to purchase U.S.-made plug-in hybrids in the form of Chevrolet Volts and battery-powered Ford Transit Connect vans, followed in 2011 by all-electric Ford Focuses. Starting in 2012, GSA's options begin to expand to include a likely Ford Escape plug-in hybrid. For obvious political reasons, I don't see the Federal government buying Fisker Karmas and Tesla Model S electric sedans.

What the GSA's policy will be towards imported electric cars like the all-electric Coda, built in China for distribution by a U.S. company, remains to be seen. Also left in limbo are vehicles like the Aptera and new, two-place Meyer's NMG three-wheelers, as well as electric bicycle, scooters and motorcycles. presumably these electric two-wheelers might qualify since the Order specifically includes bicycles. In reading 42 U.S.C. 13211, Item 6, Subsection B would seem to include these types of vehicles as well.

The only agency not obligated to comply is the National Security Agency, where the director...

"may exempt law enforcement activities of that agency, and related personnel, resources, and facilities, from the provisions of this order, other than this subsection and section 20, to the extent the head of an agency determines necessary to protect undercover operations from unauthorized disclosure."

So don't expect to see covert NSA agents silently gliding down the street in a black Aptera, at least in broad daylight. As for the U.S. Secret Service.... well, that's a secret.

Sec. 11. Recommendations for Federal Local Transportation Logistics. Within 180 days of the date of this order, the General Services Administration, in coordination with the Department of Transportation, the Department of the Treasury,the Department of Energy, the Office of Personnel Management, and other agencies as appropriate, shall review current policies and practices associated with use of public transportation by Federal personnel, Federal shuttle bus and vehicle transportation routes supported by multiple Federal agencies, and use of alternative fuel vehicles in Federal shuttle bus fleets, and shall provide recommendations to the CEQ Chair on how these policies and practices could be revised to support the implementation of this order and the achievement of its policies and goals.

Sec. 12. Guidance for Federal Fleet Management. Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Department of Energy,in coordination with the General Services Administration, shall issue guidance on Federal fleet management that addresses the acquisition of alternative fuel vehicles and use of alternative fuels; the use of biodiesel blends in diesel vehicles; the acquisition of electric vehicles for appropriate functions; improvement of fleet fuel economy; the optimizing of fleets to the agency mission; petroleum reduction strategies, such as the acquisition of low greenhouse gas emitting vehicles and the reduction of vehicle miles traveled; and the installation of renewable fuel pumps at Federal fleet fueling centers.

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