REPRINTED FROM USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is looking to harness the power of the federal government to fight climate change by requiring federal agencies to buy electric vehicles, modernizing federal buildings and changing how the government buys electricity.
Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that aims to use the federal government’s buying power to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent by 2030. The directive would put the government on a path to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
Biden has made fighting climate change a priority of his administration, and the changes outlined in the executive order are designed to make the federal government lead by example.
It’s not clear how Biden would pay for the proposals, but his nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better bill awaiting approval in the Senate calls for spending $555 billion to cut carbon emissions.
Under the new order, federal agencies would be required to transition from gas-powered vehicles to a fleet of zero-emissions cars and trucks by 2035. The government currently has a fleet of 600,000 cars and trucks. The administration believes that moving the government away from gas-powered vehicles will accelerate the auto industry's production of zero-emission vehicles and electric vehicle batteries.
Buildings owned or leased by the federal government would be upgraded to increase water and energy efficiency, reduce waste, electrify systems and promote sustainability with the goal of reaching zero-net emissions by 2045. The order also would apply to the construction of new buildings.
In addition, the order directs the federal government to work with utilities, developers, technology firms and others to buy electricity produced from sources such as wind and solar that generate no carbon emissions. The change would occur for all government operations by the end of the decade.
Given the scope and scale of the government’s demand for electricity, the administration projects the change would lead to the development of at least 10 gigawatts of new American clean electricity production by 2030, spurring the creation of new union jobs and moving the country closer to achieving a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035.
Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.