Obama Tries to Make Federal Government "Conservative"

Government moves on energy stir political fights and may stir some cleantech spending.

President Obama has issued energy conservation orders for the federal government.

The U.S. government is the largest landlord in the country. The U.S. government is also a major user of energy of all types: gasoline, diesel, electricity. President Obama’s order to federal agencies to conserve could have major repercussions on emissions and energy waste.

Over three-fifths of all Pentagon energy use is in combat zones so Afghanistan and Iraq will continue to dominate much U.S. government energy use. The U.S. Navy has long had a heavily nuc-powered fleet but the rest of our heavy-duty military machinery operates largely on fossil fuels. I recently blogged about how fuel delivered to combat vehicles in Iraq costs about several hundred dollars per gallon. Solar-powered Humvees are not on the horizon.

Obama wants the federal government to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent in the next decade. The target for the country as a whole is 17% in that time. Obama says the government spent more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008. So the Feds lead the American League in energy consumption.

The Feds have a half million buildings and 600-thousand vehicles across the land. The changes will range from biomass generating plants to solar panels to green roofs at various federal buildings.

BITTER BATTLE OVER COAL AND MONEY

There’s a coal-fired political battle being fought on the hillsides of West Virginia, a major coal -producer where mountaintop removal has become a favored way of exploiting coal efficiently. The current EPA is not granting all the requested mountaintop removal permits. Coal industry supporters cry foul while environmentalists fear money and pressure will cause the EPA to back down.

PUBLIC LOBBYING TO BEGIN

The EPA is going to be front and center with its proposal to curb smog, ground level ozone, in the U.S. The agency will begin holding public hearings so all interested parties will be buffing up their talking points. The hearings will be in Arlington, Houston and Sacramento. The EPA is targeting smog because of its damaging effects on human health. If the proposed regulations do go into effect it will spur investment in various low emissions technologies from furnaces to cars to electricity generation. Fossil fuel burning is a major source of ozone in the U.S.