Eye Opener: Cutting the government's energy bill
Happy Tuesday! What would you do to cut the federal government's energy bill? Lawmakers hope to get a few answers on Wednesday at a Senate hearing designed to assess President Obama's executive order that mandated energy conservation targets for federal agencies.
The federal government spent $24.5 billion on energy costs in fiscal 2008, equal to about eight-tenths of a percent of total federal expenses. Of that sum, $7 billion was spent to power federal buildings. The government's energy usage accounted for roughly 1.5 percent of the nation's energy consumption that year, according to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who will chair Wednesday's hearing.
“Reducing the federal government’s energy use is not only good for the environment, it is good for the taxpayer," Carper said. "Since the federal government is America’s largest consumer of energy, agencies can and should make the best use of every dollar they spend on energy.”
Lawmakers will hear from Nancy Sutley, chair of the President's Council on Environmental Quality. She's expected to share examples of what agencies are already doing to increase their energy efficiency and cut gasoline usage in their vehicle fleets, according to a spokeswoman. Other experts will share similar information.
Senators will also consider a Carper proposal to establish chief conservation officers (or CCOs -- not to be confused with CEOs) at each federal agency to help drive down energy consumption.
How can the government can cut its energy consumption? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below
• Obama's Proposed Budget Freeze: He will propose a three-year freeze on federal spending that is not related to national security, a concession that could dramatically curtail his legislative ambitions. But note: the freeze would only impact $447 billion in spending -- or just 17 percent of the total budget -- and would likely be overtaken by growth in the untouched areas of discretionary spending. Among the departments potentially subject to cuts: Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Energy, Transportation, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services.
• The Revolving Door: President Obama taps a DEA administrator and food safety nominee. James A. Collins retires Feb. 1 after 41 years as a mail clerk at the National Institute of Science and Technology. And congrats to former Washington Times blogger and frequent cable news guest Amanda Carpenter, who's headed to Sen. Jim DeMint's office as a senior communications adviser and speechwriter. Who's in? Who's out? Tell The Federal Eye
• Cabinet and Staff News: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel draws fire from the political left as the president falters. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates meets with President Obama and Vice President Biden this afternoon. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke heads to Capitol Hill to shore up support. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke meets with the Russian economic minister today at MIT. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens voices his frustration with recent decisions. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry warned superiors that Afghanistan's president “is not an adequate strategic partner.” The Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, profiled. Several Cabinet secretaries and lawmakers will show up this week at the D.C. Auto Show. Is Dawn Johnsen's nomination to lead the Office of Legal Counsel in jeopardy thanks to Scott Brown? USAID's Rajiv Shah rallies the Haiti relief response folks. Why does Richard Holbrooke deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY:
• The women of the CIA: Former spy Valerie Plame Wilson writes about the female officers killed in Demceber in Afghanistan. They "were a testament to the progress made in a historically paternalistic agency."
• "Don't Ask Don't Tell" in the State of the Union speech?: One Democratic senator says he thinks a repeal of the policy will get a mention.
• In digital combat, U.S. finds no easy deterrent: Earlier this month, top Pentagon leaders gathered to simulate how they would respond to a sophisticated cyberattack aimed at paralyzing the nation’s power grids, its communications systems or its financial networks. The results were dispiriting.
ECONOMIC STIMULUS PLAN:
• Is tracking stimulus jobs going to get easier?: The head of the federal agency tracking federal stimulus dollars thinks so.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY:
• EPA sets stricter air-quality standards near roads: The agency issued the new standard Monday, seven months after first proposing new short-term limits.
• Federal subsidy programs top 2,000!: The number of federal subsidy programs soared 21 percent during the 1990s and 40 percent during the 2000s. The entire nation is jumping aboard Washington’s gravy train, writes Cato's Chris Edwards.
• Why hasn't the Obama administration lived up to its webby promises?: Four reasons why from Slate's Farhad Manjoo.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY:
• In drug war, tribe feels invaded by both sides: By the bad luck of geography, the only large Indian reservation on the embattled border is caught in the middle, emerging as a major transit point for drugs as well as people.
• Governments to rely on high-tech security center for Olympics: Staff will occupy the Bellingham, Wash. center 24 hours a day during the games, with federal, state and local personnel working 12-hour shifts in a multiagency system.
• Three Guantanamo detainees sent to Slovakia: The detainees arrived there on Sunday. There are still 193 detainees at the prison.
• Justice Dept. clears Ticketmaster deal: The decision was greeted with cautious optimism by consumer groups who feared that the combination of the two music giants would stifle competition and lead to higher ticket prices.
• National Zoo's panda Tai Shan to return to China on Feb. 4: Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough said Tai will be traveling on a FedEx flight with a panda traveling to China from a zoo in Atlanta. The nonstop flight is scheduled to depart early in the morning from Dulles International Airport.
• Florida likely to win high-speed rail grant: The program, funded by the economic-recovery package enacted last year, will be part of the administration's focus on jobs creation in coming weeks.
U.S. POSTAL SERVICE:
• Cutting the costs of postage stamps: The Postal Service printed $37 billion worth of stamps in fiscal 2008 at a cost of $78 million and the mail agency's watchdog wants ideas on how to cut those costs.
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