If the federal government wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions, one of the most obvious ways to do so would be to clean up its own vehicle fleet. The feds currently operate some 655,000 vehicles, and only a minuscule fraction of these are truly low-emission.
President Obama signed an executive order Thursday directing the federal government to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2008 levels by 2025. As a part of this plan, plug-in vehicles are to make up 20 percent of government agencies’ fleets by 2020, and 50 percent by 2025. Agencies will also have to ensure that there is sufficient charging infrastructure.
“America once again is going to be leading by example,” said the President. “We’re proving that it is possible to grow our economy robustly while at the same time doing the right thing for our environment and tackling climate change in a serious way.”
The Obama Administration has made several attempts in the past to clean up the federal fleet. However, these earlier efforts only required government agencies to buy “low-emission” or “alternative-fuel” vehicles, including “flex-fuel” models that are capable of running on an 85 percent mix of ethanol.
It’s probable that a large percentage of the vehicles purchased to satisfy the requirements have been “flex-fuel” models, and the emissions benefits of ethanol are controversial. Furthermore, as Green Car Reports pointed out, E85 is available at fewer than two percent of gas stations nationwide, so it’s likely that few of these “low-emission” cars have ever burned a drop of E85.
According to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, during the first 10 months of 2014, EVs represented less than one third of one percent of vehicle registrations by federal, state, and local government agencies. That’s probably less than the proportion bought by the general public, which was .85 percent of total vehicle sales last September, according to the Sierra Club.