Senate Democrats

Bush Administration Has Failed to Comply with Federal Plan to Reduce Oil Dependence

Senate Democrats Call For Initiative to Reduce Federal Petroleum Use by 40 percent by 2020, Relying on Alternatives and Efficiency

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senate Democrats today called on President Bush to make a serious, long-term commitment to curbing America’s dependence on oil, starting with the federal government itself. In a letter sent today, the Senators urged the President to immediately require federal agencies to begin implementing a Clinton-era Executive Order, which established a five-year, 20 percent petroleum savings goal. They also urged the President to extend the order, to set a 40 percent savings target for federal agencies by 2020. Over the past few years, the federal government has reduced its petroleum consumption by less than one percent. The Senators’ effort comes as Democrats continue to put America firmly on the path towards energy independence by 2020.

“We believe that the lessons of the recent hurricanes, as well as the domestic and international implications of our nation’s oil dependence demand an even bolder, long-term vision of American energy independence,” the Senators wrote. Aggressively implementing and expanding the federal savings target “would demonstrate a serious commitment to improving our nation’s energy security. Moreover, it could save the equivalent of 112 million gallons of gasoline–or almost 2.7 million barrels of oil–each year.”

The letter came as Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman unveiled a toothless energy saving program with no commitment by the federal government to reduce its own consumption. Last week, President Bush urged American consumers and federal employees to curtail non-essential travel due oil and gasoline supply disruptions caused by recent hurricanes, and suggested that “there’s ways for the federal government to lead when it comes to conservation.”

However, the latest report from the Department of Energy suggests that the federal government has reduced its petroleum consumption by a mere 0.6 percent since Fiscal Year 1999–falling far short of the 20 percent mark established by President Clinton. In fact, the most recent data on federal fleet compliance indicates that the Executive Office of the President also failed to meet its requirements for alternative fuel vehicles established under the Energy Policy Act of 1992, signed into law during the first Bush Administration.

“We agree that as the nation’s largest energy consumer, the federal government itself can play an important role in enhancing the energy security of the United States,” the Senators wrote. “But this initiative deserves more than passing lip-service.”

[Text of the letter follows below]

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October 3, 2005

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The recent hurricanes and their tragic aftermath continue to teach us many critical lessons about the importance of federal leadership in response to national emergencies and natural disasters. One of these lessons is that American consumers, businesses, and our economy as a whole are unacceptably vulnerable to oil supply shocks and price volatility that endanger both the economic and national security interests of the United States.

We are prepared to work with you to help ease the immediate, short-term burdens of energy price spikes on American families and communities. But in addition, we believe that developing a serious, long-term strategy to curb our nation’s dangerous dependence on oil is long-overdue. As such, we noted with interest your call last week for American consumers and federal employees to curtail non-essential travel and conserve gasoline supplies, and that “there’s ways for the federal government to lead when it comes to conservation.”

We agree that as the nation’s largest energy consumer, the federal government itself can play an important role in enhancing the energy security of the United States. But this initiative deserves more than passing lip-service. This nation must make a long-term commitment to the adoption of cutting-edge efficiency and alternative fuel technologies. Federal leadership can help put America on the path toward energy independence.

In April 2000, the Clinton Administration recognized this potential when it issued Executive Order 13149. This policy set a national goal of reducing federal agencies’ petroleum consumption by 20 percent in Fiscal Year 2005, using a combination of alternative fuel and vehicle efficiency technologies. The initiative was designed to “help promote markets for more alternative fuel and fuel efficient vehicles, encourage new technologies, enhance the United States’ energy self-sufficiency and security, and ensure a healthier environment through the reduction of greenhouse gases and other pollutants in the atmosphere.” Today, these objectives have taken on a new urgency.

But unfortunately, five years later, the federal government has failed to make serious progress in meeting these goals. In fact, the Fiscal Year 2004 annual report compiled by the Department of Energy suggests that the federal government has reduced its petroleum consumption by a mere 0.6 percent since Fiscal Year 1999. America can and must do better.

The rapidly evolving global economy and the national security-related challenges we face at the dawn of the 21st Century make it abundantly clear that curbing our dangerous dependence on oil is a pressing national priority. As such, we urge you to direct federal agencies to begin immediately striving for compliance with Executive Order 13149′s original goal of reducing petroleum consumption by 20 percent.

But in addition, we believe that the lessons of the recent hurricanes, as well as the domestic and international implications of our nation’s oil dependence demand an even bolder, long-term vision of American energy independence. We further urge you to extend this Executive Order to require a 40 percent reduction in federal petroleum consumption by 2020. This step would demonstrate a serious federal commitment to improving our nation’s energy security, setting an example for the rest of the country to follow. Moreover, it could save the equivalent of 112 million gallons of gasoline–or almost 2.7 million barrels of oil–each year.

Securing our nation’s energy future is among the biggest economic and national security challenges faced by our generation. The status quo–in which the security of the United States and the vitality of our domestic economy is left to the whims foreign regimes and companies that may not have the best interests of our nation at heart –is simply not an option. How your Administration and Congress rise to meet this challenge will be one of the most important tests on which future generations of Americans will come to measure our leadership and resolve.

We stand ready to work with you to develop a serious and sustainable national strategy to curb our nation’s dangerous dependence on oil. We urge you to take these important first steps, which would truly establish the federal government as a leader in the effort to improve America’s energy security.

Sincerely,

Senator Cantwell
Senator Bingaman
Senator Reid
Senator Kerry
Senator Wyden
Senator Boxer
Senator Lieberman
Senator Corzine
Senator Feinstein
Senator Feingold
Senator Reed
Senator Clinton
Senator Lautenberg
Senator Durbin
Senator Murray
Senator Dorgan
Senator Bayh
Senator Akaka

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