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Agencies' gas consumption rises despite goal to cut emissions

Mar. 21, 2011 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
Government vehicles are using more gas than ever before, despite efforts by agencies to cut back and switch to less gas-dependent vehicles, such as hybrids.
Government vehicles are using more gas than ever before, despite efforts by agencies to cut back and switch to less gas-dependent vehicles, such as hybrids. (GANNETT NEWS SERVICE)

Government vehicles are using more gas than ever before, despite efforts by agencies to cut back and switch to less gas-dependent vehicles.

Although the Obama administration has ordered agencies to cut gasoline use as part of an effort to reduce emissions by 28 percent from a 2008 baseline by 2020, 2010 saw the largest year-over-year increase in gasoline consumption in the last five years.

Consumption, excluding use for military operations, rose 7 percent from 301 million gallons in 2009 to 322 million gallons in 2010, according to agency data released Friday by the General Services Administration. The second-highest increase was the 3 percent increase in 2009 from 292 million gallons in 2008.

The government's gas bill also climbed 33 percent, rising from $704 million in 2009 to $939 million in 2010. The highest yearly total was in 2008, when gas prices reached an average of $3.90 across most of the country and exceeded $4 a gallon in many areas. The government paid more than $952 million in 2008 for gasoline.

Gasoline accounted for most of the fuel consumption. Overall, the fleet consumed 414 million gallons of a variety of fuels in 2010, up 5 percent from 393 million gallons in 2009 and up more than 18 percent from 349 gallons in 2006.

The size of the fleet grew by more than 11,000 vehicles in 2010, or 1.7 percent, from 651,000 in 2009 to 662,000. The 2010 figure is a 5 percent increase from 630,000 vehicles in 2006.

The Postal Service led 2010 spending with a total fuel bill of $364 million, with the Department of Homeland Security second with $263 million.

Federal agencies in 2010 purchased more alternative fuel vehicles than ever before, but these lower-emission vehicles still make up a small portion of the government's fleet. Of 662,000 non-combat vehicles, about 400,000 use gasoline, while 84,000 use diesel fuel. More than 185,000 use a mixture of ethanol and gasoline. Only about 10,000 are hybrids, and 3,100 are electric vehicles. Five are hydrogen-powered.

But the number of hybrids and electric cars has grown significantly since 2009, when there were only 57 electric vehicles and 5,500 hybrids.

Most of the growth in electric cars has come from the military, which purchased or leased more than 2,500 in 2010.

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