Court Orders Energy Department To Buy Alternative Fuel Vehicles
A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to purchase more alternative fuel vehicles within two years.
In a case brought by environmental groups, District Court Judge William Alsup on Thursday ordered the DOE to come into compliance with the Energy Policy Act of 1992. The law is designed to reduce dependence on foreign oil, lessen global warming and cut air pollution by mandating the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles.
The judge denied a government request for an additional three to four years of delay, instead ordering the DOE to revise the long-overdue petroleum reduction goal to an achievable number within one year, and in the following year to determine whether the alternative fuel vehicles purchase rules must apply to private and municipal vehicle fleets.
In a March 6 ruling in the same case, Judge Alsup rejected a DOE finding that federal agencies cannot take action to reduce fuel use because petroleum reduction goals mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 1992 are unachievable.
The plaintiff environment groups were happy with the ruling.
“Urgent action is needed to reduce our dependence on oil, cut pollution, and address the impacts of global warming, which threatens our health, environment and future prosperity,” said Peter Galvin, conservation director for the Center for Biological Diversity.
“We are pleased the Court has ordered an end to the Bush administrations foot-dragging on converting federal and private vehicle fleets to more fuel efficient and less polluting vehicles,” he said.
“The DOE has been stonewalling progress on alternative fuel vehicles for years,” said Danielle Fugere, global warming director for the plaintiff Bluewater Network, a division of Friends of the Earth.
In passing the Energy Policy Act of 1992, Congress intended to replace 30% of petroleum vehicle fuel use with alternative fuels by 2010, through federal purchase of less polluting vehicles, and by using the purchasing power of the federal government to open the market for natural gas, propane, ethanol and electric vehicles, which produce less pollution and greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline powered vehicles.
The Act requires all federal agencies with light duty fleet vehicles in major metropolitan areas to acquire at least 75% alternative fuel vehicles each year.
In November 2005, settlement of the purchasing component of the lawsuit was reached with the Departments of Commerce, Labor, Transportation and Veterans Administration, which admitted violations and agreed to increase their current alternative fuel vehicles acquisitions – 46, 3, 29, and 24%, respectively–up to the required 75%.
The federal government has over 600,000 vehicles, the largest fleet in the nation.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.