Obama orders federal agencies to nearly triple green energy use

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The White House has made its next move in its crusade against global warming, issuing a memorandum ordering that all federal agencies get 20 percent of their power from green energy sources by 2020.

“This memorandum establishes a new target for Federal use of renewable energy that challenges agencies to more than double their renewable electricity consumption,” reads the White House memorandum.

“By fiscal year 2020, to the extent economically feasible and technically practicable, 20 percent of the total amount of electric energy consumed by each agency during any fiscal year shall be renewable energy,” the memorandum continues.

This represents another step in President Obama’s renewed commitment to tackle global warming by using executive branch authority to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The White House said that federal agencies have already reduced their carbon footprint by more than 15 percent from 2008 levels and consumed seven percent of their power from green energy sources, like wind and solar, this year.

However, the memorandum has come under scrutiny from the coal industry who already are bearing the brunt of Environmental Protection Agency rules that prevent new coal plants from being built.

“Time and time again, the President and members of his Administration fail to acknowledge the multitude of economic and electric reliability consequences of supplanting renewable fuel sources with coal-fueled electricity, and now our federal government will become a model for bad policy,” said Laura Sheehan, spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

“Given the enormous resources at its disposal, the federal government may very well meet the President’s standard,” Sheehan added. “However, in communities across the country — where families are still struggling and budgets matter — ‘economical’ attainment is still decades away.”

President Obama’s push for stricter environmental policies has ignited a nationwide battle against his administration, pitting coal states against the federal government. Congressional Republicans and some Democrats have urged the Obama administration to scale back its climate agenda, specifically canceling pending carbon dioxide limits on power plants.

West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin and Kentucky Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield introduced legislation in both houses of Congress that would limit the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from coal plants.

The EPA’s proposed power plant rule would ban the construction of coal-fired power plants unless they use carbon capture and sequestration technology, which is commercially unproven. The Manchin-Whitfield bill would prevent the EPA from imposing such a standard.

“It’s time the EPA started working as our partner, not our adversary, to achieve that balance. And the EPA can start by recognizing it is just common sense that regulations should be based on what is technologically possible at the time they are proposed,” Manchin told the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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