Feds aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent

Aug 28, 2011 By Cory Nealon

NASA opened an energy efficient office building at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. The Navy is running boats on biofuel in Norfolk.

But those efforts only go so far as NASA, the Department of Defense - and every other federal agency under White House orders to curb emissions by 28 percent by 2020 - struggle to meet the goal.

"2020 is not that far away," said R. Roy Whitney, chief information officer and chief technology officer at Jefferson Lab, a nuclear physics lab in Newport News, Va., run by the Energy Department.

President has been unable to push comprehensive and through Congress. As a result, he is taking a piecemeal approach, often by issuing executive orders or relying upon established but loosely enforced laws.

Examples include tougher standards the U.S. issued last month for coal-fired power plants and a planned increase in for automobiles.

Obama issued the greenhouse gas emissions order in October 2009. According to a White House statement, the federal government is the largest energy consumer in the United States - it spent more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008.

Achieving the greenhouse gas goal would save up to $11 billion in energy costs through 2020, the equivalent of taking 17 million cars off the road for a year, the statement said.

"Our goal is to lower costs, reduce pollution and shift Federal energy expenses away from oil and towards local, clean energy," Obama said in the statement.

The order is poised to have a significant impact on Hampton Roads, a region sometimes known as "Pentagon South" due its high concentration of military installations and related industry.

NEW LANGLEY BUILDING

In June, NASA opened a 70,000-square-foot office building at Langley that earned the highest designation possible from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. The Navy, meanwhile, is using algae-based to power its patrol boats; it plans to incrementally add larger boats - frigates, cruisers, destroyers - culminating in a "green" carrier strike group in 2016.

Such an option isn't available to Jefferson Lab, officially the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility. Home to power-sucking lasers that are brighter than the sun and a near mile-long atom-smashing machine, the lab consumes the same electricity - 250 megawatts a day - as 5,000 houses combined.

The Energy Department buys electricity from Dominion Virginia Power, whose power-generation portfolio consists largely of coal, nuclear and natural gas power plants. Where the power comes from matters, Whitney said, because greenhouse gas emissions from electricity use are estimated according to regional power supplies.

Hampton Roads is part of an EPA-defined region that runs from Maryland to Georgia, over to eastern Texas and up to Illinois. The region relies heavily on coal and natural gas, which contribute significant greenhouse gas emissions. It also has dozens of nuclear reactors that produce no emissions.

Cutting the lab's emissions by 28 percent - based on 2008 energy use - will be especially difficult considering it is undergoing an expansion that will double its power usage by 2015, Whitney said. The lab may partner with the region's other federal agencies to lobby for more renewable and nuclear energy in Virginia and beyond.

"You've got a divergent group of federal agencies here," said Craig Quigley, a former Navy admiral who heads the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance. "But energy is a common denominator among all of them."

ACHIEVABLE GOAL

Dominion, the state's dominant utility company, is converting three small coal-fired power plants into biomass power plants. Biomass, which includes organic materials such as wood, corn and garbage, is exempt from reporting.

Dominion also plans to build a transmission line from Virginia Beach to connect with future offshore wind turbines. A state-sponsored report said offshore wind turbines could produce 3,200 megawatts, but boosters say it'll likely be at least 10 years before that happens.

In 2009, about 6 percent of the state's electricity came from renewable sources - the same percentage as Maryland and North Carolina. But unlike the neighboring states, Virginia does not mandate that a certain amount of its energy come from renewable sources. Environmental groups say the mandate will spur quicker investment.

Being that Obama's order is just that - not a law established by Congress - it could be undone as early as 2013 if a new president is elected. Whitney and Quigley are aware of that, but they said it's not altering their plans.

"Energy is not getting any cheaper," Quigley said. "And it's not getting any more plentiful."

Benjamin Cuker, an environmental science professor at Hampton University, said while Obama's order is lofty, it is achievable. Government must retrofit old buildings with energy-saving windows, light bulbs and other devices, construct new energy efficient buildings, invest in solar and geothermal power, and promote telecommuting and teleconferencing, he said.

"I think it's completely reachable," he said. "It's a matter of getting over the momentum of past practices."

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freethinking
3 / 5 (8) Aug 28, 2011
Isnt it funny that Obama orders things to be done. Much like a czar, or king, or dictator would do. Who cares about due process like writing, debating then passing laws.

Why cant he use his powers to cut the cost of government by 28% by 2020?

Wait, 2012 is coming up, if we get a President, a congress and senate that believes in the Constitution, we can cut the cost of government 28% the way the founders of the country intended to. By debate, law, and actually voting.

omatumr
2.7 / 5 (7) Aug 28, 2011
Obama and many other world leaders - and leaders of our once great Western scientific community - are running scared today.

I prepared these documents (pdf and doc) for an ACS webinar today on:

"Critical Look at Global Warming Data: Wickedly Complex System Called Climate."

http://dl.dropbox...inar.doc

http://dl.dropbox...inar.pdf

I was pleased that the American Chemical Society has already moved away from lock-step, consensus science of AGW. That scare is based on the validity of the SSM model of Earth's heat source as a giant ball of hydrogen with a stable H-fusion reactor at its core.

I hope that the American Physical Society will now encourage SSM proponents to address experimental observations and data that have been hidden or ignored for decades.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
Shelgeyr
2 / 5 (4) Aug 28, 2011
(Headline) Feds aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent
(within the article)...and every other federal agency under White House...


While I still think it is a stupid and unnecessary move, I am relieved that it is targeted just at the Feds themselves, and not something aimed at the country at large.

I did not find this immediately obvious from the headline, so on balance, "guarded relief" I guess.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.7 / 5 (11) Aug 29, 2011
"Isnt it funny that Obama orders things to be done." - FreeDumb

I think it is funny that you apparently think that the U.S. president doesn't have the authority to control government agencies like the U.S. military and NASA for which he has been granted the authority to control.

"Why cant he use his powers to cut the cost of government by 28% by 2020?" - FreeDumb

Because that is not in his power to control Agency size is primarily determined by the budget process, and the budget is set by Congress.

How sad it is that you Tea-Tards don't have a clue as to how your own government works.

Vendicar_Decarian
1.8 / 5 (10) Aug 29, 2011
"While I still think it is a stupid and unnecessary move, I am relieved that it is targeted just at the Feds themselves, and not something aimed at the country at large." - ShelTARD

Don't worry. If you refuse to limit your consumption out of the force of reason, we will impose it upon you through the strangling invisible hand of global economics.
Shelgeyr
3.3 / 5 (7) Aug 29, 2011
A spoiled and insulting child whined:
Don't worry. If you refuse to limit your consumption out of the force of reason, we will impose it upon you through the strangling invisible hand of global economics.


How very leftist of you to threaten totalitarian retribution if you don't get your way. I'm not the slightest bit worried by your threats, however, seeing as how I'm part of the ruling class.
freethinking
3.3 / 5 (7) Aug 29, 2011
VD wants to be like his progressive hero Stalin and Mao and wants to hang everyone who doesn't agree with him.

Best thing for this country is to let progressives like VD show their true colors.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.8 / 5 (10) Aug 30, 2011
"How very leftist of you to threaten totalitarian retribution if you don't get your way. - ShelTard

Nature doesn't respect your irrational ConservaTard ideology.

Neither dos any thinking person.

Vendicar_Decarian
1.9 / 5 (9) Aug 30, 2011
"VD wants to be like his progressive hero Stalin and Mao and wants to hang everyone who doesn't agree with him." - FreeTard

FreeTards believe that they are entitled to their own reality.

Nature has an absolutely Liberal Bias.

"Facts are silly things." - Ronald Reagan
Shelgeyr
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 30, 2011
I think commedian Arj Barker covered this topic best back in 2009...

http://www.youtub...U0pV2AXE

The relevant bit starts around the 3:13 mark. Brilliant!
Shelgeyr
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 30, 2011
Wow! Someone didn't like Arj Barker, nor his astute and comedic powers of observation? And he was even on topic!

I think that might be evidence right there of a sad and deeply troubled mind...
omatumr
1 / 5 (3) Aug 30, 2011
Stories in The Financial Post [1] and The Register [2]:

5000 CERN physicists have confirmed the conclusion of a 15-year old school child:

http://home.earth...maunder/

Now the remaining question is just this: What fraction of these "cosmic" rays come from the pulsar [3] at the solar core?

Any estimates? My unofficial guess is high, historically 100%!

Does anyone know any reliable measurements of "cosmic" ray flux at different distances from the Sun?

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel

1. http://opinion.fi...settled/

2. www.theregister.c...results/

3. http://arxiv.org/...2.1499v1

PS - It was also a child that noticed a few holes in the Emperors new suit.
http://hca.gilead...ror.html
Vendicar_Decarian
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 30, 2011
What fraction of these "cosmic" rays come from the pulsar [3] at the solar core?" OmaTard

None of course, since only an absolute fool would believe or argue that there is a pulsar inside the sun.

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