Federal Eye: 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.

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