Government’s hired cars should be as green as its own, group says

An electric car refuels at a charging station in San Francisco. An electric car refuels at a charging station in San Francisco. Eric Risberg/AP

The federal government could save $7 billion annually by adopting stricter fuel regulations for its contracted automotive fleet, a clean energy advocacy group report concludes.

The report by the American Clean Skies Foundation suggests extending the purview of existing regulations for government-owned or -leased vehicles, dictated by an executive order that President Obama signed in 2009.

“Our plan ratchets down the government’s consumption of oil -- and the fiscal and environmental costs that come with it -- by requiring federal agencies to apply to third-party transportation providers the same kinds of alternative fuel targets, efficiency standards and reporting practices that agencies currently apply to their own vehicle fleets,” the nonprofit group wrote in its report.

The foundation recommended that by 2015, federal agencies should require at least 5 percent of federally contracted shipments to be delivered with alternative fuels, with the goal of at least a 2 percent increase in each of the following 10 years. The group also suggested Congress mandate the Government Accountability Office to report annually on the federal government’s effectiveness in reducing petroleum consumption by third-party transportation services.

Executive Order 13514 requires a 30 percent reduction in vehicle fleet petroleum use by 2020. Federal agencies -- which spend $150 billion annually on contracted transportation services, according to the report -- have it within their authority to create similar requirements for third parties without additional action from Congress, the clean energy group said.

The White House Council on Environmental Quality maintained the administration’s policies do include “pursuing opportunities with vendors and contractors to address and incorporate incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as changes to manufacturing, utility or delivery services, modes of transportation used and other changes in supply chain activities.” Spokeswoman Taryn Tuss told Government Executive that CEQ looks forward to reviewing the report.

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