Obama drives ahead on climate with government emissions cuts

obama executive orderPresident Barack Obama ordered the federal government on Thursday to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half over the next decade, driving his climate change agenda forward despite percolating challenges from Republican-led states.

By curtailing pollution within the U.S. government, Obama sought to increase political pressure on other nations to deal seriously with climate change. The U.S. and other nations will soon announce how much they’re willing to cut their national emissions as part of a global climate treaty to be finalized in December; scientists warn that if those pledges are too lax, the treaty could be too weak to stop the worst effects of global warming.

“We thought it was important for us to lead by example,” Obama said at the Energy Department headquarters, where he toured a sprawling installation of solar panels on the building’s roof. “These are ambitious goals, but we know they’re achievable goals.”

Under an executive order signed by Obama, the government must cut its emissions of the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming by 40 percent, compared to 2008 levels — a move the White House said could save taxpayers up to $18 billion in electricity costs. Obama also directed agencies to ramp up use of renewable energy so that within a decade, roughly one-third of the government’s power consumption will come from sources like solar, wind and hydropower.

Yet it was unclear how the government would meet those targets. The White House said it was providing agencies with new tools to track their progress and “sustainability plans,” but offered no specifics.

Already, Obama’s administration has gone after most of the major sources of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, including cars and trucks, power plants, methane from natural gas production and refrigerants. The administration was also expected to release new rules for “fracking” — hydraulic fracturing for gas or oil — on public lands as early as Friday.

Most of those regulations have faced intense opposition from the energy industry and from Republicans — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who wrote the nation’s 50 governors on Thursday urging them to defy Obama’s power plant rules by refusing to submit compliance plans to Washington. In contrast, Obama’s order cutting emissions within the government elicited no immediate criticism.

Although the government is the largest U.S. energy consumer, it’s responsible for less than 1 percent of annual U.S. emissions — and a far smaller chunk of emissions worldwide. Still, the Obama administration was betting that aggressive federal cuts would spur private industry and other nations to follow suit.

“The truth is the U.S. has only a few additional levers they can pull to reduce emissions,” said Paul Bledsoe, a climate adviser in the Clinton White House. “One of those is the federal government’s own emission profile.”

Major companies that sell to the federal government like GE, HP, Northrop Grumman and Honeywell also announced voluntary commitments to cut their own emissions of the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. IBM, for example, said it will cut its energy consumption 35 percent by 2020 and buy at least 20 percent of its power from renewably sources by that year.

All told, the government pollution cuts along with industry contributions will have the effect of keeping 26 million metric tons of greenhouse gases out of the air by 2025, or the equivalent of what about 5.5 million cars would pump out through their tailpipes in an average year, the White House said.

The global climate treaty, in the works for years, is supposed to be concluded in December in Paris, but most countries will miss the end-of-March deadline to announce their national contributions. One prominent exception: the European Union, which earlier in March vowed to cut emissions at least 40 percent by 2030, compared to 1990.

The U.S. has yet to announce its contribution to the treaty. But in a bid to build momentum, last year Obama set a U.S. goal to cut emissions up to 28 percent by 2025 — compared to 2005 levels — in a joint announcement with China that boosted hopes for an aggressive global pact.

“Certainly our hope is that we are laying forth template that other countries could also learn from and look at as well,” said Brian Deese, a senior adviser to Obama.

Under Obama’s executive order, the government must:

— Cut energy use in federal buildings 2.5 percent every year through 2025.

— Reduce the amount of water used in federal buildings 2 percent every year through 2025.

— Decrease federal vehicle emissions by 30 percent per mile by 2025, compared to 2014 levels.

— Ensure federal agencies get 25 percent of their energy — both heat and electricity — from clean sources by 2025.

— Put more hybrid and zero-emission vehicles in the federal fleet.

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Comments (13)

  • Avatar

    Al Shelton

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    What an absolute fool, or political front man or both.
    CAGW is a complete scam. CO2 is innocent of all charges that it is an evil gas.
    Those that have made the charges must provide the proof. AND.. computer models and rhetorical lies are not evidence.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    GR82DRV

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    What a shock. Confirming again that the climate change [b]agenda[/b] is the real centerpiece of Obama’s “legacy” drive and the reason that everything else in the world (economic crisis, terrorism, Russian aggression, etc) are just [i]distractions[/i] in Obama’s mind.

    Climate change itself is simply a surrogate banner behind which Obama and his fellow leftists propose sweeping regulations, economic redistribution, and the surrender of U.S. sovereignty to the [i]leftist clown car act[/i] that is the United Nations.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Amber

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    GR82DRV
    Couldn’t agree more .Obama helped fund the Chicago Climate Exchange before taking Office .
    The other reason this scam is promoted is pure and simple money . Always was.The ring leaders all want a piece of that giant carbon tax/cap and trade cake and their day in the sun is rapidly coming to a close .

    When is enough enough ?

    Reply

    • Avatar

      GR82DRV

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      [quote name=”Amber”]GR82DRV
      Couldn’t agree more .Obama helped fund the Chicago Climate Exchange before taking Office .
      The other reason this scam is promoted is pure and simple money . Always was.The ring leaders all want a piece of that giant carbon tax/cap and trade cake and their day in the sun is rapidly coming to a close .

      When is enough enough ?[/quote]
      Amber, exactly. How convenient?… Contrive an illness, and then claim to own [i]and sell[/i] the only cure! For this reason alone anyone should be justified to be skeptical (as if skepticism must be justified at all).

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Robert

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    [quote]Under Obama’s executive order, the government must:

    — Cut energy use in federal buildings 2.5 percent every year through 2025.
    — Reduce the amount of water used in federal buildings 2 percent every year through 2025.
    — Decrease federal vehicle emissions by 30 percent per mile by 2025, compared to 2014 levels.[/quote]

    Easily done, reduce the size of the Federal government and all of those goals will be self attaining.

    Now we all know THAT isn’t going to happen.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Gator

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      Why not just evict the UN? That should cover those targets.

      And instead of Obama’s planned palatial Hawaiian megaplex, how about a PJ in Chicago? He could also simply hire his buddies the Black Panthers as body guards, and lay off some Secret Service personnel.

      But, like his ‘pastor’ who lives in a 10,000 square foot home in a gated community, he is ‘more equal’.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Amber

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    Robert what a simple straight forward suggestion . I would cut EPA staff by 30% as a start . You know show so real leadership .

    Reply

    • Avatar

      JayPee

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      Why not 97 % ?

      They seem to be enraptured by that figure so much, why not demonstrate it for them ?

      Reply

  • Avatar

    sonnyhill

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    Why are some people willing to accept this? Do schools teach children how to think for themselves? Or are children taught what to think? Being told who to trust and who to revile? If you question the consensus you will be publicly pilloried. That ought to teach them, make examples out of the trouble makers.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Gator

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      Public schools as a rule do not teach children how to think, they prefer to teach them what to think. I have said for decades now that this is one of the worst forms (if not [i]the[/i] worst) of child abuse, as it can cripple for life. And the crippling is not limited to a child here and there, it cripples society as a whole, which can lead to endless generations of human suffering.

      I thank my lucky stars that I had a private education early in life, and a father who always put logic and reason first.

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Greg Taylor

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    So eliminate cheap abundant coal and replace it with expensive, intermittent and unreliable solar and wind and that is going to reduce energy costs. And if you like you health insurance you can keep it . Period. How can anyone believe anything he says? And HYRDO? Since when have ANY dams been approved?

    Reply

  • Avatar

    sonnyhill

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    [quote name=”Gator”]Public schools as a rule do not teach children how to think, they prefer to teach them what to think. I have said for decades now that this is one of the worst forms (if not [i]the[/i] worst) of child abuse, as it can cripple for life. And the crippling is not limited to a child here and there, it cripples society as a whole, which can lead to endless generations of human suffering.

    I thank my lucky stars that I had a private education early in life, and a father who always put logic and reason first.[/quote]
    There was no chance that I would get a private education, yet somehow I too am a “pragmatic libertarian”. I only realized years after graduating that school should be a gymnasium for the brain. The real education begins in the real world. Very few teachers had ever ventured outside the education system. Nice and cozy in there.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Gator

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      I was first educated in military schools overseas, and there was no government interference with the curriculum, and no political or social bias. Then when we moved back stateside, and we saw how awful the public schools were. After skipping a grade, my parents saw that I was not being challenged and found a private school that I attended until we moved again.

      Thankfully my new school (High School) offered advanced courses taught by passionate educators that made us discover truths, instead of dictating their, or their union’s interpretations.

      My father enjoyed cryptograms and crossword puzzles, and gave me skills for breaking down complex issues. Whenever possible I joined him to hear world renowned thinkers who offered their insights to our military.

      Dad was a member of the Society of Logistical Engineers, and I always read what dad left on the coffee table, even those dry monthly journals.

      I never was into comic books! 😆

      I became a Libertarian by continuing to think for myself, and I have slowly brought my conservative brother and mother over to the dark side as well. 😉

      Reply

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