Erika Johnsen

Well, color me surprised: yet another of the Obama administration's renewable-energy promises, borne of wishful green thinking and populist political appeal, meeting with resistance from that darn inconvenience that some might call reality. Bloomberg reports:

Obama gave speeches across the U.S. last year touting his twin goals of buying only alternative-fuel vehicles for the U.S. fleet by 2015 and getting 1 million electric vehicles on the country’s roads by that year.

That’s looking more difficult as the federal government learns the same lesson that U.S. car consumers have already figured out: it is tough being green. Rather than leading the way, the government has discovered that the high cost of hybrids and electric cars and their lack of availability often mean it makes more sense to buy cars with fuel-efficient conventional engines. ...

U.S. General Services Administration purchases of hybrid and electric models fell 59 percent in fiscal 2011 to about 2,645 as the federal fleet added 32,000 cars and trucks that can burn a fuel that’s 85 percent ethanol, or E85 vehicles, when it’s available. ...

So, they're scaling back on the hybrid and electric cars, because -- gasp -- they're just not that practical. But, the Obama administration does include vehicles that can use both E85 ethanol-based fuels and gasoline in it's definition of alternative-fuel vehicles... except, the special ethanol fuel isn't really practical, either:

The problem is that buying and driving ethanol fueled cars solves very little. The GSA, which owns about a third of the federal fleet, said last year that 88 percent of its alternative-fuel vehicles are capable of using ethanol. Still, ethanol fuel pumps are not very common and car owners, including the federal government, often have to use gasoline instead, said Lindland.

There are only about 2,512 ethanol fuel pumps available among the estimated 162,000 fueling stations that sell gasoline. There are about 6,033 electric charging stations, according to U.S. Department of Energy data.

The U.S. government, which has given automakers and suppliers money to develop electric-vehicle technologies, last year bought 2,645 hybrid, electric and fuel-cell vehicles, less than 5 percent of the 54,843 vehicles it bought, according to the data.

That’s a decrease from the 9.5 percent average of all purchases for those models in fiscal years 2010 and 2009, when economic stimulus spending fueled $300 million of fuel-efficient vehicle purchases for the federal fleet of about 600,000 cars and trucks.

The way this administration is experimenting on green energy projects with taxpayer dollars, you'd think we had money to burn instead of a more than one hundred percent debt-to-GDP ratio. And you know something -- I bet they would, literally, burn taxpayer dollars, if they thought they'd release less carbon than traditional gasoline.


Erika Johnsen

Erika Johnsen is a Web Editor for Townhall.com and Townhall Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @erikajohnsen.