- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
On Aug. 30, 2012, President Obama quietly released an Executive Order (EO) titled, Accelerating Investment in Industrial Energy Efficiency. The entire order can be viewed by clicking on this link.
According to various studies, business consumes about 30 percent of the energy production in the United States. Energy production has been a target of the EPA for some time as they attempted to force industry to change the way they produce power. The Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) was supposed to accomplish that goal but it was recently struck down by the appeals court. The EPA has not yet announced their plans to react to the ruling.
This EO requires various federal agencies to work together to develop policies that would "… identify, develop, and encourage the adoption of investment models and State best practice policies for industrial energy efficiency and CHP…" CHP is an acronym for combined heat and power. The EPA describes such systems on their website. Read EPA's description of CHP. CHP is expected to reduce greenhouse gas production, which is likely the main driver behind the EO since CSAPR is in jeopardy. According to descriptions in the EO and on EPA's website, the addition of CHP systems would also reduce energy consumption and lower costs. If this is the case, I wonder why business has not already adopted such technology since it has been around for some time now. Why would an EO be needed to "encourage" business to make such investments?
EOs have been used by U.S. presidents since 1789. Until the early 20th century, they were not made public. While nearly every president has used them and declared they are constitutional, they are always controversial and scholars say the constitution does not in fact specifically allow them. Presidents have relied upon language in the constitution that grants the executive branch power to "take care that the Laws be faithfully executed." An EO carries the weight of law and while they have been challenged in the past, they still remain a murky area. Language at the end of the orders is thought to protect the executive branch in case an order is challenge. In other words, each order would have to be challenged, which can be very time consuming and costly.
For now, it is important to keep abreast of steps that government agencies may take to encourage business to engage CHP and other energy saving technology as a result of this EO. New rules may come out under the EPA or they may come from the Departments of Energy, Commerce or Agriculture.