The Capitol Power Plant, which provides heating and cooling to 23 federal government buildings, burns mostly fuel oil despite natural gas being cheaper and cleaner, the New York Times reports.
The plant has reduced the amount of coal in its mix to 5 percent, from 56 percent in 2007, and makes up most of the difference with diesel. In 2008 it spent about $2.7 million on fuel oil, about twice as much as it would have spent for natural gas, because an upgrade to run on nat gas exclusively would have cost $6-7 million.
The plant has regularly escaped oversight by the EPA and DC’s Department of the Environment, although in 2011, the District of Columbia found that one of the plant’s boilers had exceeded nitrogen limits.
US companies would be excused for asking why they need to follow more and more stringent emissions rules when Congress cannot even keep its own plant in compliance. The EPA and DOE have tried to spread the message that far from being a job-killer, environmental and energy regulations can actually spark innovation and save companies money. By refusing to invest in an initiative that would have reduced emissions and saved money, the government has undermined that message.
Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.