Energy & Environment

Energy Department rule would cut government building emissions 90 percent

A new proposed rule from the Biden administration would cut emissions from new federal buildings 90 percent from 2003 levels in the next two years.

Under the proposed rule, new or renovated federal buildings would be required to reduce emissions from the 2003 baseline by 90 percent beginning in 2025. Beginning in 2030, the rule would make new buildings and major renovations fully carbon-neutral, according to the Energy Department.

“Ridding pollution from our buildings and adopting clean electricity are some of the most cost-effective and future-oriented solutions we have to combat climate change,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “For the first time ever, DOE is establishing a firm timetable to reduce the government’s carbon footprint in new and existing federal facilities—ensuring the Biden-Harris Administration is leading by example in the effort to reach the nation’s ambitious climate goals.”

About a quarter of federal emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels in government buildings. The proposed rule is estimated to cut federal buildings’ emissions by about 1.86 million metric tons and 22.8 thousand tons in methane emissions in the next three decades.

Natural gas trade associations took umbrage at the proposal to fully electrify all new federal buildings and eliminate the use of natural gas.

“Eliminating natural gas in federal buildings is an impractical, unscientific and expensive idea that will have no environmental benefit. In reality, the demand for electricity fueled by natural gas will only increase and the costs will be borne by every taxpayer,” American Gas Association President and CEO Karen Harbert said in a statement. “The American Gas Association supports the goal of lower emissions and is investing every day to continue to decarbonize our systems. AGA will thoroughly evaluate the proposal and vigorously participate in the public comment process.”

The Biden administration has set a target of making federal government operations fully carbon-neutral by 2050, with a 65 percent reduction by 2030.

Tags Department of Energy Jennifer Granholm Joe Biden Karen Harbert

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