On Wednesday President Bush issued an executive order stating that:
"It is the policy of the United States that Federal agencies conduct their environmental, transportation, and energy-related activities under the law in support of their respective missions in an environmentally, economically and fiscally sound, integrated, continuously improving, efficient, and sustainable manner."
He instructed government agencies to take eight steps to reduce energy consumption, two of which I am focusing on.
1) If agencies operates a fleet of at least 20 motor vehicles
(i) reduce the fleet's total consumption of petroleum products by 2 percent annually through the end of fiscal year 2015,
(ii) increases the total fuel consumption that is non-petroleum-based by 10 percent annually, and
(iii) use plug-in hybrid (PIH) vehicles when PIH vehicles are commercially available at a cost reasonably comparable, on the basis of life-cycle cost, to non-PIH vehicles
The reduction in use of petroleum products sounds quite reasonable, but not very aggressive. As pointed out in Autopia the order does not require that total fuel consumption go down, only that petroleum consumption be reduced. I find the order remiss in that it does not require any increases in the fuel efficiency of vehicles. This requirement could be interpreted as being included in my point two, as being part of the overall energy efficiency of the agency. I do not find this interpretation specific enough.
I find the increased use of non-petroleum-based fuel is extremely aggressive, as it could require the purchase of flex-fueled vehicles before the current vehicles would normally be replaced.
I am especially encouraged that the order included plug-in vehicles. The term "use of plug-in hybrid vehicles" does not define how much they must be used and thus leaves a potential loop hole. The life-cycle cost of PHEVs should allow well engineered PHEVs to be purchased at an early date, although there may be some ambiguity as how to calculate life cycle cost. I wish the clause requiring PHEVs to be available commercially had been worded differently. I interpret it as meaning that they could be purchased from any company, large or small, offering the vehicles in any quantity, domestic or foreign made. This would be a fine policy, but I would like it spelled out as I have done, avoiding other interpretations of the policy.
2) Reduce energy intensity of each agency by:
(i) 3 percent annually through the end of fiscal year 2015, or
(ii) 30 percent by the end of fiscal year 2015, relative to the baseline of the agency's energy use in fiscal year 2003.
It is hard to judge whether these are reasonable goals, but they sound OK to me and I am supportive of such goals.
Thanks to the tip from Wired News Autopia