Obama: Agencies Must Cut GHG Emissions 20% by 2020

by | Aug 13, 2009

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whitehouseA new mandate from President Barack Obama will order federal agencies to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 20 percent from 2010 levels by 2020, according to Federal Times.

Dan Amon, senior energy adviser at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), told Federal Times the new mandate is included in a draft executive order on federal energy usage that could be distributed to agencies for review as early as next week. Obama is expected to sign the order next month, according to Federal Times.

Law enforcement, military and related activities would be exempt from the order.

The new order, drafted by the Office of Management and Budget and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, will require agencies to measure both direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions, beginning October 1, which will be the baseline year. The mandate will also set new targets for curbing energy and water use and require agencies to better publicize their greening efforts, reports Federal Times.

Rachael Jonassen, a senior scientist at Logistics Management Institute, a nonprofit consulting firm that develop guidelines for measuring greenhouse gas emissions in the public sector, told Federal Times that tracking emissions is an enormous undertaking and the initial challenge for most agencies will be installing environmental management systems to collect data at individual facilities and be capable of aggregating it across all bureaus.

Agencies have a tough challenge ahead. Currently, only three federal agencies — the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Agriculture Department’s Forest Service and EPA — are participating in the EPA’s Climate Leaders Program to help public- and private-sector employers measure and reduce their carbon footprint, with EPA rolling out its program for tracking and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in phases, reports Federal Times.

However, EPA and other agencies will have to monitor more than just building operations, they will need to take into account indirect emissions, which aren’t tracked through the Climate Leaders Program.

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