will use his executive privileges to combat climate change. Some who are seeking
a pretext to discredit the President have suggested that he is ruling by
executive orders (EOs). However, President Obama has signed fewer EOs in his
first four years in office than most of his predecessors. Executive orders are
issued by the President of the United States to manage the operations of the
In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama indicated
that while he wants to work with Congress, he is prepared to use other means at
“The good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while
driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan,
market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe
Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to
protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with
executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution,
prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the
transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
President Obama is far from the first President to use EO’s to address
environmental considerations. Most recently, his Republican predecessor, George
W Bush signed EO 13423, “Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and
Transportation Management,” on January 24, 2007 and it was codified into law
by the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which was signed by President Obama on
February 17, 2009.EO 13423 consolidates and
strengthens the sustainable practices of the following EOs dating back to
- 13101 of September 14, 1998
- 13123 of June 3, 1999
- 13134 of August 12, 1999
- 13148 of April 21, 2000
- 13149 of April 21, 2000
EO 13423 directs federal agencies to establish absolute goals for
carbon-cuts, to reduce fossil fuel consumption in federal vehicles by 30
percent, to implement a net-zero-energy requirement for federal buildings and to
add sustainability requirements to federal contracts.
As explained by the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, EO 13423
requires federal agencies to lead by example in advancing the nation’s energy
security and environmental performance by increasing energy efficiency, reducing
greenhouse gases, increasing renewable energy, improving building performance,
enhancing water conservation, preventing pollution, conserving petroleum, using
more alternative fuels, expanding purchases of environmentally sound goods and
services, and more stringent environmental standards for electronics.
On Monday 26 January 2009, President Obama introduced his executive orders as follows, “I
want to be clear from the beginning of this administration that we have made our
choice: America will not be held hostage to dwindling resources, hostile regimes
and a warming planet. Today I’m announcing the first steps on our journey toward
energy independence, as we develop new energy, set new fuel efficiency standards
and address greenhouse gas emissions.”
“Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance,” was
signed by the President on October 5, 2009. EO 13514 introduces new greenhouse
gas (GHG) emissions management requirements, requiring each Federal Agency to
submit a 2020 greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution reduction target from its estimated
2008 baseline by January 4, 2010. It also expands water reduction requirements
for federal agencies, and addresses waste diversion, local planning, sustainable
buildings, environmental management, and electronics stewardship.
President Obama signed EO is 13514
on Federal Sustainability on October 5, 2009, it requires each Federal Agency to
submit a 2020 greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution reduction target using a 2008
baseline. President Obama has pledged to reduce the Federal government’s GHG
emissions by 28 percent over the next decade.
According to a press release from Whitehouse.gov, “Actions taken under this
Executive Order will spur clean energy investments that create new
private-sector jobs, drive long-term savings, build local market capacity, and
foster innovation and entrepreneurship in clean energy industries.”
Other green executive orders include:
13543 establishes a National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon
Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.
13546 addresses the use and security of biological select agents
13547 protects, maintains and supports the oceans, coasts, and the
13626 addresses Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration.
13554 establishes the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task
13624 accelerates Investment in Industrial Energy
This lst EO, signed in August, 2012, is designed to promote American
manufacturing by helping to facilitate investments in energy efficiency at
Policy. Accelerate and expand investments that reduce energy use
through more efficient manufacturing processes and facilities and the expanded
use of combined heat and power (CHP).
in Industrial Efficiency. Coordinate policies between a variety of
departments to encourage investment in industrial efficiency in order to reduce
costs for industrial users, improve U.S. competitiveness, create jobs, and
reduce harmful air pollution.
new, cost-effective industrial CHP in the United States by the end of 2020;
use of best practice State policies and investment models that address the
multiple barriers to investment in industrial energy efficiency and CHP;
efficiency and CHP, such as by providing assistance to States, providing
incentives, employing output-based approaches as compliance options, seeking to
expand participation in and create additional tools, reducing energy intensity
by 25 percent over 10 years, support and encourage efforts to accelerate
investment in industrial energy efficiency and CHP, providing general guidance,
technical analysis and information, and financial analysis, improving the
usefulness of Federal data collection and analysis, and assisting States in
developing and implementing State-specific best practice policies.
The President’s use of EO (13514) to establish Federal Leadership in Environmental Energy is amongst those
actions that have been singled out for criticism by conservatives.
One headline referred to Obama as an “imperial president” and suggested that he is abusing his
powers. Some went so far as to say that his green energy EO was
unconstitutional. However, these types of attacks are little more than political
theatre. Executive Orders are a routine part of presidential powers and contrary
to what his detractors have alleged, President Obama has used his executive
privileges very sparingly.
According to data derived from the Federal Registry, president Obama has
issued less EOs than all of his predecessors.
Obama (2009-Present) passed 143 EOs averaging 35 per year.
W. Bush (2001-2009) passed 290 EO’s averaging 36 per year
J. Clinton (1993-2001) passed EO’s 363 averaging 45 per year
Bush (1989-1993) passed 165 averaging 41 per year
Reagan (1981-1989) passed 380 averaging 47 per year
Carter (1977-1981) passed 319 EO’s averaging 79 per year
R. Ford (1974-1977) passed 168 EO’s averaging 56 per year
Nixon (1969-1974) passed 345 EO’s averaging 69 per year
B. Johnson (1963-1969) passed 323 EO’s averaging 53 per year.
F. Kennedy (1961-1963) passed 213 EO’s 10914-11127 averaging 106
D. Eisenhower (1953-1961) passed 481 EO’s 10432-10913 averaging 60
S. Truman (1945-1953) passed 893 EO’s averaging 111 per year
D. Roosevelt (1933-1945) passed 3466 EO’s averaging 288 per
- Herbert Hoover (1929-1933) passed 995 EO’s averaging 248
Historically, the average number of EOs per president is 610, which is more
than four times the number of EOs signed by President Obama.
In the context of the current political environment, green EOs are one of the
President’s most potent weapons. However, there are limits to their utility. No
matter what the President does, the U.S. must also pass climate legislation and
this requires the support of the American people and Congress.
Source: Global Warming is Real
Executive Order 13514: Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance
Executive Order 13626: Accelerating Investment in Industrial Energy Efficiency
Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management
Obama Makes Good on Executive Order to Reduce the Federal Government’s GHGs
President Obama’s Executive Orders in His First Year (2008)