EPA Says “Do What I Say, Not What I Do” And Moves To The Burbs

In October, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13514, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance,” that, among other things, said the following:

Ensuring that planning for new Federal facilities or new leases includes consideration of sites that are pedestrian friendly, near existing employment centers, and accessible to public transit, and emphasizes existing central cities and, in rural communities, existing or planned town centers

So what is the EPA doing in Kansas City, Kansas where they have 600 employees in a downtown building? They are moving to the ‘burbs.

I could go on about transportation energy efficiency and all of our posts on this kind of issue, but Kaid Benfield at NRDC Switchboard does a much better job:

This decision is horrible in so many ways that it’s hard to know where to start. How the hell did EPA administrator Lisa Jackson sign off on this?

Benfield notes that it could triple transportation carbon emissions as just about everyone will be driving those extra twenty miles. Benfield also notes the perverse use of LEED as an excuse:

A second argument advanced in favor of the sprawl site is, ironically, that the former Applebee’s building is LEED-certified while the current building, which was built to then-prevailing green standards in 1998 but predates LEED, is not. If that is the real reason, it more than anything else I have come across illustrates the perversity of LEED building standards that largely ignore the environmental consequences of location. Research shows that transportation energy use and emissions of purportedly green buildings, when they are placed in sprawl, wipe out any benefits conferred by the technology of the buildings themselves.

The owner of the current downtown building says that he is willing to go LEED Gold on his operations and maintenance within the year. More at NRDC Switchboard : EPA Region 7: “We were just kidding about that sustainability stuff”

Over on the Original Green, Steve Mouzon joins the Easter Parade and compares the EPA to Judas.

The Environmental Protection Agency has joined the infamous ranks of those who betray what they were sworn to protect.

He focuses on the Gizmo Green aspect of bailing out of town for a so-called sustainable building:

Gizmo Green is the proposition that with better equipment and better materials, we can achieve sustainability. But it simply isn’t so because increases in our consumption consistently outstrip industry’s ability to increase efficiency. Simply put, if our behavior doesn’t change, our machines can’t save us. Sustainability isn’t something you get by going shopping. It’s something you get by thinking (and then acting) differently. So the second closely-related reason is that sustainability isn’t something “they” do… it’s something we do….. it’s high time to begin taking a more holistic view of sustainability that goes far beyond our tools, and focuses on everything else about us as well… including the sprawl we inhabit and the auto-dominated lifestyle it forces upon us.

The New York Times picked up the story, and diverts attention from the EPA, writing that leases for buildings are the responsibility of the General Services Administration, and that the EPA is only the tenant that goes where it is told.

Charlie Cook, a spokesman for GSA, said the decision was purely a matter of economics. When lease negotiations began, the government was not looking for a new location, but it would have been “irresponsible” to take any of the offers made by the owners of the current building, he said.

“We’re the stewards of federal tax dollars, and we can’t just sign a lease based on what’s popular with some,” Cook said. “We have to stick to our principles.”

Cook also plays the green card, noting that the new building has to be LEED certified Gold for the building and Platinum for the operations and maintenance.

But Kaid Benfield has the last word in the Times:

“What we have called ‘green’ traditionally has not taken into account all of the environmental elements that are associated with a particular building,” he said. “You can get a platinum certification for a building in a corn field — or in this case, a wheat field.”

This post originally appeared on Treehugger.

Related Stories:

The EPA Can Regulate Carbon, For Now

Obama Lacks Vision on Energy, Stomach to Defend EPA

Obama Sets Emissions Targets–Without Mentioning Climate Change?!


Photo from San Diego Shooter via flickr
Written by Lloyd Alter, a Treehugger blogger


Ernie Miller
william Miller6 years ago

OK what this really comes down to is some one high up or several people high up in the department that needs the new space wants it closer to their house so they dont have to navigate the cluttered hihways to work in the mornings and to top it off they dont want to pay the expensive parking in the Garages in dowtown KC. I have been there and know a little what is going on. You would be suprised how many Federal people do use public transit in KC because they get it at a discount thru their jobs. and now to move them out to the Burbs is pretty insane.

Cheryl H.
Cheryl H.6 years ago

*facepalm* You can tell bureaucrats were involved: a decision made with the intention of streamlining things and saving money will actually make accomplishing the same result more complicated and difficult, generate more waste, take more time, be more inconvenient, and make absolutely no sense to anyone other than those who came up with the stupid idea in the first place.

Martin S.
Morgan S6 years ago

Subject: Congressional Reform Act of 2011

This is an easy one to forward, I hope you pass it on as well. This is exactly what elected officials need to have happen. This is a no brainer!!! It is time. If you agree send it to 20 people good and true. If you disagree, please delete it.

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified!
Simple! The people demanded it.
That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

1.Term Limits.

2. No Tenure / No Pension.
Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.
3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.
4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
6. Congress loses their current health care system and has the same health care system as the American people.
7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.
Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.
Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned cit

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush6 years ago

This is no different than Tea Party Republicans, trying to shove nuclear power and coal mine drilling, down our throats.
They want these energies to continue, but have no intention of living in close promimity to any of these facilities.

DawnMarie Giammona
Dawn Marie6 years ago

Seems like we are negotiating and renegotiating decisions to a place where further environmental damage ensues )-:

Debbie Wasko
Past Member 6 years ago

CHARLIE COOK, GSA SPOKESMAN: we're the stewards of federal tax dollars.

EPA REGION 7: we were just kidding about that sustainability stuff.

Two more examples of the trickle-down, empty verbage of Obama's signed October 2009 Executive Order 13614 (Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance).

Any wonder we're in deep shit?

Patricia Y.
Patricia Y6 years ago

Thank you for the info.

Billie C.
Billie C6 years ago

how many people live in the center of any city? not many. moving to the burbs will probably save lots of gas and time for their employees.

Danny W.
Danny Wilson6 years ago

Escape from New York, or where ever?

Susan V.
Susan V6 years ago

its not the first stupid thing he has done!