Over the past 16 years, the federal government’s EPAct has invested billions of dollars building a fleet of 112,000 alternative-fuel vehicles with the hope that the fleet would serve as an example for America to move away from its dependence of foreign fuel. However, the program is fraught with problems, Washington Post reports.
Under a mandate from Congress, federal agencies have gradually increased their fleets of alternative-fuels, with a majority capable of running on either gasoline or ethanol-based E85 fuel. But many of these vehicles were sent to locations far away from any alternative fueling site, resulting in standard gasoline still representing 92 percent of the fuel used in government’s alternative-fuel fleet, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal records.
When fleet managers searched for vehicles that would meet EPAct requirements, they found that the most affordable models were big flex-fuel sedans and SUVs, The Detroit News reports.
“They were bigger, they ran on gas, and they weren’t fuel-efficient,” said Mark Gaffigan, director of natural resources and environment with the Government Accountability Office, which completed a program audit last month. “If they had just bought regular vehicles that were more fuel-efficient, they would be better off.”
The U.S. Postal Service estimates that its 37,000 newer alternative-fuel delivery vans consumed 1.5 million additional gallons of gasoline last fiscal year due to larger engines.
But that energy waste doesn’t seem to be slowing down adoption. In July, the Postal Service announced it was participating in Project Driveway to identify new technologies in hopes of replacing almost 90 percent, or 195,000 of its delivery fleet, with non-petroleum fueled vehicles.
Last year, President Bush issued an executive order requiring federal agencies to shift federal fleets to plug-in hybrid vehicles.