Biden Executive Order Makes Cuts to Federal Government Emissions

By Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino covers the White House.
December 8, 2021 Updated: December 8, 2021

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday intended to reduce carbon emissions across the federal government, with the goal of net zero emissions from overall federal operations by 2050.

The measure calls for the use of the federal government’s annual purchasing power of $650 billion to make sweeping changes to the government’s 300,000 buildings, and fleet of 600,000 cars and trucks.

The president’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Budget for Fiscal Year 2022, and Build Back Better spending plan still being negotiated in Congress will provide the funding necessary to achieve the goals of the executive order, according to the White House.

“U.S. Government will lead by example to leverage scale and procurement power to drive clean, healthy, and resilient operations,” the White House Fact Sheet reads.

The order includes a plan to power federal operations entirely with electricity generated from wind and solar by 2030. This will involve the development of at least 10 gigawatts of new electricity, according to the White House.

The order also calls for the purchase of zero-emission vehicles, with the goal of all vehicles purchased with zero net emissions by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027.

Biden’s order also seeks to reach net-zero emissions for all federal buildings by 2045, including a 50 percent reduction in building emissions by 2032.

The order also includes a “buy clean” initiative that directs the government to promote the use of products with lower emissions.

“True leaders turn adversity into opportunity, and that is exactly what President Biden is doing with this executive order today,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, in a statement. “Putting the weight of the federal government behind reducing emissions is the right thing to do. It will move us closer to reaching our shared climate goals and strengthen our clean energy sector—something we should all be able to support.”

Several federal agencies have already launched projects to convert to alternate energy sources.

The Department of Defense (DOD) is constructing a 520 MW solar array in the California desert, which is set to be completed next year. It’s also building a 70 MWh battery storage system at its Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is constructing a low emissions building on a parcel in Massachusetts.

And the Department of Homeland Security is outfitting its New London U.S. Coast Guard Academy with solar panels.

Nick Ciolino
Nick Ciolino covers the White House.