MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. --
In June, the air station will know how much it needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and that could lead to some big changes in station operations.
The Department of Defense is expected to soon release reduction goals for military bases after President Barack Obama tasked all federal agencies to establish new greenhouse gas policies in an executive order, released Oct. 8, 2009.
“The president has said that he wants federal agencies to track their greenhouse gas emissions and has set reduction goals for them as well,” said Marie Stewart, station environmental air quality program manager. “After the guidelines are released in June, agencies will be tasked with coming up with how they’re going to meet the goals.”
“We kind of know what they’re going to want to achieve,” said Buehler. “However, we have to be ready to make drastic changes to the way we do things here on station.”
The station is already looking into ways to conserve fuel, reduce energy, construct more environmentally friendly buildings and operate current station buildings more conservatively, said Stewart.
While the goals for cutting greenhouse gases are defined in the policy, the Department of Defense still doesn’t have an outline for how it will be done.
“We’re still very much in the planning stages on how we’re going to capture the emissions and regulate them,” said Jonathan Buehler, station environmental division manager. “We’ve never had to regulate green house gases before, so the steps to recording them and keeping them in check is a little tricky. However, now that green house gases are going to be a registered pollutant, the science behind it should catch up fairly quickly.”
While the policy covers nontactical vehicles and stationary commercial equipment, tactical vehicles and equipment are exempt from the new policy.
Tactical vehicles are described as those used by the DoD for combat or combat support, such as Humvees and Harriers.
The new standards also define what constitutes a greenhouse gas and assigns each a value to relate its global warming potential to that of carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride are listed as greenhouse gases. These gases have varying heat-trapping abilities and atmospheric lifetimes.
The rates for allowed greenhouse gas emissions will be based off the 2008 emission statictics. Agencies will have to lower their emissions from those levels.
“We’re using the 2008 report because the 2009 report is still being calculated,” said Stewart. “It shouldn’t make much of a difference because we’re always between a certain percentage every year.”
In some cases the air station will have to operate well below the federal standards because greenhouse gas rules are stricter in California.
“Since the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range is located in California we have to deal with two different policies,” said Stewart. “California’s policy and standards are a little stricter than Arizona’s, so what works here doesn’t always work there.”