Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

The American administration is getting greener

Adelina Marini, April 25, 2010

In spite the fact that the US scores small or no success in fighting climate change (the new legislation for CO2 reduction and energy efficiency is stuck in the Senate), president Barack Obama's administration is already putting a lot of efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. After announcing a transition from paper document transfers to electronic, the American Department of the Treasury started another initiative.

As of July 31 this year the Department and the annex buildings will use wind power to supply 100 percent of their energy demand, the Treasury announced on the occasion of Earth Day. Electricity generation is the leading cause of industrial air pollution in the US, with the majority of US electricity coming from non-renewable sources such as fossil fuel-based power plants. As of July 31, 2010, the Treasury Department will be purchasing enough Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for wind power to supply 100 per cent of the energy demand for the main Treasury and Treasury annex buildings.

RECs practically finance renewable power generation, which is then placed into the electrical grid. The result is reduction of fossil fuels production. RECs allow buyers to ensure that a specified amount of renewable power was generated to meet their demand.

In October the President signed an Executive Order requiring Federal agencies to set a 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, increase energy efficiency, reduce fleet petroleum consumption, conserve water, reduce waste and other environmentally-firendly measures. Treasury set the goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 33 percent by 2020, and the move to wind power will help Treasury meet this goal.

According to the Department's calculations, the shift from paper to electronic transactions is expected to save more than $400 million and 12 million pounds of paper in the first five years alone.