President Obama issued an executive order today, directing the federal government to lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, the Associated Press reported. The order also says that the government needs at least 30 percent of its energy to come from renewable sources.

According to the White House, the changes could save taxpayers up to $18 billion in electricity costs over the next decade.

“These are ambitious goals, but we know they’re achievable goals,” Obama said while touring the Department of Energy after signing the order.

Specifically, Obama’s executive order will require the federal government to:

  • Cut energy use in federal buildings 2.5 percent every year between 2015 and 2025
  • Reduce the amount of water used in federal buildings 2 percent every year through 2025
  • Decrease greenhouse gas emissions from federal vehicles by 30 percent per mile by 2025, compared to the levels in 2014
  • Ensure federal agencies are getting 25 percent of their energy — both heat and electricity — from clean sources by 2025
  • Put more hybrid and zero-emission vehicles in the federal fleet of cars and trucks

The White House also said that major companies that currently work for the federal government, including GE, HP, Northrop Grumman, and Honeywell, are also going to announce efforts to cut their own greenhouse gas emissions.

The cut in emissions by the government and the cuts made by corporations “will have the effect of keeping 26 million metric tons of greenhouse gases out of the air by 2025, or the equivalent of what about 5.5 million cars would pump out through their tailpipes in an average year.

While the federal government is not one of the major producers of global greenhouse gas emissions, the Obama administration hopes that this step will influence other countries to do the same.

“Certainly our hope is that we are laying forth a template that other countries could also learn from and look at as well,” said Brian Deese, one of Obama’s senior advisers.


Richard Eskow is host and managing editor of The Zero Hour, a weekly radio program produced by We Act Radio. He was the senior writer and editor for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. Richard has written for a number of print and online publications, was a founding contributor to the Huffington Post, and is a longtime activist. He is also a Senior Fellow with the Campaign for America’s Future.