On December 8, President Biden directed federal agencies to cut the government’s carbon dioxide emissions by 65 percent by 2030 with the goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. Biden is directing federal car shoppers to buy only zero-emission passenger vehicles and light trucks by the end of fiscal year 2027, with 100 percent compliance by all vehicles by 2050. His executive orders call for federal buildings to transition to net-zero emissions by 2045, by primarily powering the facilities with wind, solar, and nuclear energy and using “sustainable” building materials. By 2030, Biden wants the federal government to purchase electricity produced only from sources that do not emit carbon dioxide. By 2032, the Biden administration wants to see carbon dioxide emissions from building operations, such as heating, cut in half.

In a series of executive orders, Biden directed the government to transform its 300,000 buildings, 600,000 cars and trucks, and use its annual purchases of $650 billion in goods and services to meet his goal of a federal government that is net zero in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The plan does not cover purchasing by the Department of Defense, which accounts for a large portion of the government’s energy spending.


Currently, only 40 percent of the electricity purchased by the federal government of its $4.5 billion in electricity expenditures annually comes from renewable sources like wind and solar. Biden’s goal is to ramp that up to 100 percent in less than a decade. The federal government consumes just 1.5 percent of the nation’s energy, although it is a major player in certain states where it has significant operations, such as Virginia, California, Georgia and North Carolina. In converting its power to wind, solar and other sources that do not produce carbon dioxide emissions, the government intends to follow the path set by companies like Google, Apple and Wal-Mart, which established tariffs or developed power-purchase agreements with local utilities to achieve their goals of 100 percent renewable energy.

Currently electric vehicles represent only about 1.5 percent of the government fleet. In fiscal year 2021 the administration purchased 650 electric vehicles, but that number would have to increase several-fold this year and beyond to achieve the goal. The government buys about 50,000 vehicles a year, many of which are replacements. Renewable energy and other “clean” energy purchases are likely to cost the government more money, and many of the components like electric charging stations for an all-electric federal vehicle fleet have not yet been built and will also run up the price tag of achieving Biden’s goals.

According to the White House Fact Sheet, the following acquisitions will begin the effort toward meeting the goals:

  • In 2022, the Department of Defense’s Edwards Air Force Base in California will add 520 megawatts of solar photovoltaic energy.
  • In 2022, the Department of Defense’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii will complete construction of a 14-megawatt solar facility paired with a 70 megawatt-hour battery energy storage system sited on the base.
  • In 2023, the Department of Transportation will complete its Volpe Transportation Center project that transforms six buildings into a low-emissions building with rooftop solar PV panels, zero electric vehicle charging stations for the federal fleet and employee vehicles, green and cool roof technologies, a rainwater reclamation and reuse system, and a climate-resilient above-grade data center.
  • By 2022, the Department of the Treasury will have completed the majority of its energy infrastructure improvements at an Internal Revenue Service Center outside of New York City through a 17-year, $30.9 million energy savings performance contract.
  • Some federal agencies have taken steps toward integrating electric vehicles into their fleet, including the Department of Homeland Security which plans to begin field testing an electric Ford mustang model next year for law enforcement use. The U.S. Department of Interior’s U.S. Park Police have begun using lightweight motorcycles and dirt bikes at some locations.

These are just a drop in the bucket to what will be needed to attain Biden’s goals.


These executive orders are to get the Biden administration closer to its announced goal of cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The White House plans to use money from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, the annual budget and the Build Back Better Act, which Congress has yet to pass, to pay for these federal initiatives, which will harm workers in the fossil fuel industries. While Biden’s goals will be creating jobs in the renewable energy and electric vehicle markets, these jobs will not compensate for the losses in the fossil fuel industries and their higher salaries. Luckily, given that these goals are set by executive order, they can be reversed by a future administration more concerned about financial responsibility to taxpayers.

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