Bush orders agencies to lead way in cutting energy use

By Tom Shoop

January 24, 2007

On the heels of a State of the Union address that challenged Americans to reduce U.S. gasoline usage by 20 percent over the next 10 years, President Bush issued an executive order Wednesday requiring federal agencies to cut their energy consumption -- by, among other actions, purchasing more hybrid cars.

In a speech after touring a DuPont energy research facility in Wilmington, Del., Bush said he would apply the 20 percent fuel cut target to vehicles in the federal fleet. "We're going to be joining with America -- we set the goal; it doesn't make much sense for the federal government to set the goal and then not participate, and we will," Bush said.

Under Bush's order, agencies operating fleets of at least 20 motor vehicles must reduce their consumption of petroleum products by 2 percent a year through the end of fiscal 2015. Bush said such agencies would begin buying new plug-in hybrid vehicles "as soon as they hit the market."

"I think that will give some surety to those who have invested in new technologies to know that the federal government is going to be a purchaser, when commercially available," Bush said. "In other words, we're not going to waste your taxpayers' money, but we're going to participate in a new market."

Bush's order requires agencies to reduce their overall energy use by 3 percent annually, or 30 percent by the end of fiscal 2015, and to cut water consumption by 2 percent a year over the same period. It mandates that agencies expand procurement programs focusing on environmentally friendly products, including bio-based products.

Under the order, agencies must appoint a senior executive to oversee energy efficiency efforts, establish programs for environmental management training and create awards programs to honor outstanding conservation efforts.

The White House Office of the Federal Environmental Executive issued a fact sheet on the president's order, noting that federal agencies already have reduced petroleum consumption by 70 percent since 1985.

The office noted that the new goal of improving energy efficiency by 30 percent in 10 years is 50 percent more stringent than a standard set out in the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

By Tom Shoop

January 24, 2007