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White House Urges Federal Workers To Travel Less, Use Mass Transit

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama wants federal workers to cut down on business travel and commuting by car as he seeks to reduce heat-trapping emissions produced by the federal government.

The White House was announcing Tuesday that the government will aim to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from indirect sources like employee driving by 13 percent in 2020, compared with 2008 levels.

Earlier this year Obama directed agencies to reduce pollution from direct sources, such as buildings and government fleets, by 28 percent in the next decade.

The federal government is the largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy, and the combined reductions would be the equivalent of removing emissions from 235 million barrels of oil, the White House said.

Employee travel and commuting account for the biggest category of what the White House calls indirect sources of pollution, so the main way to limit them will be encouraging employees to travel less for business and to use mass transit for their commutes. Other sources of indirect pollution are waste disposal and energy that is lost through inefficient electricity transmission.

The announcement allows Obama to show some forward movement on cutting greenhouse gases even as the Senate prepares to take up energy legislation without the broad, economy-wide greenhouse gas emission caps Obama hoped for.

In a statement, Obama noted that the government is the biggest energy user. "The government has a responsibility to use that energy wisely, to reduce consumption, improve efficiency, use renewable energy, like wind and solar, and cut costs," he said.

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