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Obama orders cut in federal government's greenhouse-gas emissions

President Obama Friday told federal agencies to cut energy use to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 28 percent by 2010. Agencies are taking measures ranging from using more solar energy to switching from gasoline vehicles to hybrid vehicles.

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The White House Friday announced it would move ahead with plans to enact major cuts in energy use that are expected to reduce the federal government’s greenhouse-gas emissions by 28 percent by 2020.

“As the largest energy consumer in the United States, we have a responsibility to American citizens to reduce our energy use and become more efficient,” President Obama said in a prepared statement. “Our goal is to lower costs, reduce pollution, and shift federal energy expenses away from oil and towards local, clean energy.”

The president last fall issued an executive order requiring federal agencies to “measure, manage and reduce” greenhouse-gas emissions to agency defined goals. As the single-largest energy consumer in the US economy, the federal government spent more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008 alone. If it achieves its target, the government would slash federal energy use by the equivalent of 205 million barrels of oil use annually – the equivalent of taking 17 million cars off the road for one year.

The government would also save a cumulative $8 to $11 billion in avoided energy costs through 2020 from the 2008 baseline, according to the White House.

While the move will not by itself make a large dent in the nation’s overall emissions, it is a significant step that comes just a day after the Obama administration submitted a pledge to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat to cut greenhouse-gases by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels. To do that, however, will require congressional approval.

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