Council on Environmental Quality Blog

  • Celebrating Five Years of the National Ocean Policy

    It’s an exciting summer for the ocean, and we’re not just talking about Shark Week. President Obama proclaimed June 2015 as National Oceans Month, and, in mid-June, Capitol Hill Ocean Week here in Washington, DC, featured a series of displays and symposia highlighting the multifaceted wonders of the ocean and the challenges of conserving and managing ocean resources.

    This week marks the anniversary of a significant milestone in the journey to improve ocean governance in the United States: five years ago, on July 19, 2010, President Obama signed an Executive Order creating the first National Ocean Policy and a Federal interagency National Ocean Council (NOC), which we co-chair, to implement it.

    To honor this anniversary, we offer some reflections here about the importance of the National Ocean Policy in helping the Nation meet its stewardship responsibilities for the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes, and the work that the NOC and its partners across the country have done to make this Policy a reality.

  • Modernizing our Electric Transmission Infrastructure and Driving the Development of Clean Energy

    President Obama is committed to improving the nation’s electric grid and spurring the development of renewable energy. Since the President took office, the United States has increased electricity generation from solar energy 20 fold and tripled the amount of electricity we generate from wind. To further build on this progress, the Obama Administration remains committed to modernizing and improving our transmission grid.  Improving our transmission grid will make electricity more reliable, save consumers money, catalyze the transition to a clean energy economy, and reduce the carbon pollution that is leading to climate change. 

    That is why, today, the Administration is announcing new investments in the next generation of power transmission and smart grid technology in 13 states and executive actions that will make it easier and faster to permit transmission lines, including:

  • Join a Google+ Hangout on Building Climate Change Resilience through Community Service

    Last week, the Obama Administration announced a new set of actions to support low-income and other vulnerable communities in preparing for the impacts of climate change. Included in this set of actions are new steps to increase the role of community service in helping these communities prepare through the creation of a Resilience AmeriCorps pilot program.

    On Wednesday afternoon, senior White House officials and key resilience partners will be hosting a White House Google+ Climate Hangout to discuss President Obama's commitment to protecting vulnerable communities from climate change and the Administration's launch of the Resilience AmeriCorps pilot program. We invite you to join the Hangout and participate in the conversation by tweeting your questions and comments using #ActonClimate. This conversation will be moderated by Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

    Watch the Google+ Hangout on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, at 2:00pm ET.

    Participants include: 

    • Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director, White House Council on Environmental Quality
    • Ali Zaidi, Associate Director, Natural Resources, Energy, and Science, White House Office of Management and Budget
    • John Kelly, Deputy Chief of Staff, Corporation for National and Community Service
    • Sam Carter, Associate Director, The Rockefeller Foundation
    • Peter Goldwasser, Deputy Director, Cities of Service
    • Kate Meis, Executive Director, Local Government Commission
    • Jackie Kozak Thiel, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Fort Collins, Colorado

  • Federal Sustainability: Leading by Example and Driving Innovation

    This week, CEQ Managing Director Christy Goldfuss and I kicked off the 2015 GreenGov Symposium – an event co-hosted by CEQ and The George Washington University – where we highlighted Federal sustainability achievements and discussed strategies to continue meeting sustainability goals. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus joined us to emphasize the all-hands-on-deck approach that Federal agencies must take to address climate change.  We were also joined by GW faculty and staff as well as expert panelists from Federal agencies, private companies, and nonprofit organizations. The participants shared best practices for a variety of sustainability fields, including clean energy, vehicle fleet management, and energy efficiency. 


    Christy Goldfuss, Kate Brandt, and GW's Kathleen Merrigan discuss federal sustainability initiatives at the 2015 GreenGov Symposium. Photo courtesy of CEQ

    And there was good news to share.  This week, agencies released their 2014 Agency Sustainability Scorecards. The scorecards show that Federal agencies have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 17.4 percent from 2008 levels. This is the equivalent of taking about 1.9 million cars off the road— roughly the same number of cars registered in the state of Maryland.  Agencies have also reduced water use by 21 percent since 2007 and get nine percent of their electricity from renewable sources.

    For more on how we've achieved this progress, check out the Feds at Work video here

    All of this means we're on track to meet the aggressive new goals President Obama established in March. And agencies aren't stopping there. At the Symposium, the General Services Administration unveiled plans to bring up to 3 megawatts of solar energy to 18 Federal buildings in Washington D.C. In addition, Secretary Mabus announced the Navy’s plan for a project that will bring an estimated 6-8 megawatts (MW) of solar power to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, also located in Washington D.C. These projects are a part of the Capital Solar Challenge, which the Administration launched last year to deploy more solar energy at Federal locations across the National Capital Region.

    We also announced that 72 MW of solar has already been deployed on Department of Defense (DOD) privatized housing. To encourage additional deployments, DOD is partnering with CEQ to launch the DOD Privatized Housing Solar Challenge. Through the Challenge, we'll work with privatized housing developers to increase the amount of solar energy generated on privatized military housing through the end of 2016.

    Beyond renewable energy, we also announced that the White House has updated its vehicle fleet to include more fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles. These new vehicles will reduce GHG emissions by roughly 40% from 2014 levels and optimize the White House fleet composition.

    President Obama is committed to taking action on the global threat of climate change. The GreenGov Symposium made clear that Federal agencies will continue to lead by example to meet that commitment and do their part to ensure ensure a cleaner, safer, and healthier planet for future generations.


  • Unlocking Wind Power Across America

    Advancing turbine technology will unlock 700,000 more square miles of wind potential and make it a reality in all 50 states.

    Now available in 39 states, wind power has emerged as an important source of American clean energy – and there’s potential for even more. Today, the Energy Department released a new report – Enabling Wind Power Nationwide  – that shows how the next generation of wind turbines can help expand wind power in all 50 states.

  • Celebrating National Bike to Work Day

    Today is Bike to Work Day, and Federal employees here in Washington D.C. and in cities across the country are leaving their cars at home and biking into work. As the Administration’s Federal Chief Sustainability Officer, I always appreciate the opportunity to applaud Federal employees’ doing their part to reduce the Federal Government’s carbon footprint.

    Biking to work may seem like a small step, but more sustainable commuting – be it biking, walking or using public transportation – benefits everyone. Those benefits include important emissions reductions that protect public health, but there are others as well. Anyone who’s ever been stuck in rush hour traffic understands the value of having fewer cars on the roads. And walking and biking promotes healthy living and fitness.

    For many of my colleagues, Bike to Work day is part of a larger, nationally coordinated Federal Bike to Work Challenge.  This challenge calls on Federal employees to form teams that encourage participants to set commitments, like bike commuting at least once a week during May. Each rider keeps track of their miles online, which spurs some friendly competition between agency teams to log the most miles.

    Last year, over 2,100 Federal riders participated, 400 of them new bike commuters. They logged more than 266,000 bike commute miles, avoiding about the same number of pounds of CO2 emissions. Plus, the Federal Bike to Work Challenge has introduced new riders to bike commuting and has helped make biking an integral part of organizational culture across the Federal community. President Obama has set an aggressive goal to reduce the Federal Government’s direct greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2025 in his recent Executive Order on Federal Sustainability. Through the Executive Order, the President has directed Federal agencies to not only cut emissions from direct sources like buildings, but also from indirect sources like employee commuting. Culture changes like those promoted through the Federal Bike to Work Challenge will play an important role in helping achieve these goals. 

    I am proud to see initiatives like the Federal Bike to Work Challenge gain popularity each year, and was happy to see so many riders, both Feds and non-Feds, out on National Bike to Work Day today.  Have fun, be safe and keep up the good work!

    Kate Brandt is the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.