Tag Archives: Statements and Releases

President Obama Expands Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target for Federal Operations

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Washington, DC – President Obama announced today that the Federal Government will reduce greenhouse gas pollution from indirect sources, such as employee travel and commuting, by 13% by 2020.  This commitment expands beyond the Administration’s greenhouse gas reduction target from direct sources set in January, 2010, such as Federal fleets and buildings, by 2020.  Cumulatively, greenhouse gas pollution reductions from Federal government operations will total 101 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the emissions from 235 million barrels of oil.

The reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is called for in President Obama’s Executive Order 13514 on Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, which requires the Federal government to lead by example towards a clean energy economy and reduce, measure and report direct and indirect greenhouse gas pollution.

“Every year, the Federal Government consumes more energy than any other single organization or company in the United States,” said President Obama.  “That energy goes towards lighting and heating government buildings, fueling vehicles and powering federal projects across the country and around the world.  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.”

The Federal government is the single largest energy consumer in the US economy. It owns 600,000 vehicles, owns and manages nearly 500,000 buildings, and paid a $24.5 billion utility and fuel bill in 2008.  Meeting these targets will engage the nearly 2 million men and women across the country who are employed by Federal agencies.

In conjunction with this announcement today, Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Labor, Martha Johnson, Administrator of the General Services Administration, and Ronald Sims, Deputy Secretary of the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development convened a Clean Energy Economy Forum on Federal leadership in High Performance Sustainable Building.

On October 19, 2009, the White House launched the GreenGov Challenge to ask all Federal and military personnel to share ideas about how the federal community can lead by example, green the government, and meet the goals of President Obama’s Executive Order on Federal Sustainability. The GreenGov Challenge generated more than 5,000 ideas and 165,000 votes from 14,000 federal employees.

Some GreenGov ideas have already been put into practice, from doubling the Federal hybrid fleet to eliminating Styrofoam cups from agency cafeterias.  Other ideas, such as utilizing renewable energy to power Federal buildings and expanding bicycle commuting, are being incorporated into each Federal agency’s annual Sustainability Plan.

The Executive Order further requires that the actions Federal agencies take to meet these goals have a positive return on investment for the American taxpayer. To promote accountability, annual progress will be measured by the Office of Management and Budget and reported online to the public.

Vice President Biden to Travel to Alabama on Thursday

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WASHINGTON, D.C.- On Thursday, July 22, Vice President Biden will return to the Gulf Coast region. The Vice President will visit Theodore, Alabama, to assess efforts to counter the BP oil spill and visit with Gulf residents affected by the spill. Additional details and media logistics are forthcoming.

Statement by the President on the Senate Judiciary Committee Vote

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Elena Kagan is one of this country’s leading legal minds, and has shown throughout this process that, if confirmed, she would be a fair and impartial Supreme Court Justice who understands how decisions made by the Court affect the lives of everyday Americans.

Today’s vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee is a bipartisan affirmation of her strong performance during her confirmation hearings. I want to thank the Judiciary Committee for giving her a thorough, timely and respectful hearing, and I look forward to the full Senate taking up and voting on this nomination before the August recess.

Vice President Biden Holds Middle Class Task Force Event on Work and Family

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Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force Releases Recommendations;

White House Council on Women and Girls Launches Work-Flex Event Starter Kit

WASHINGTON – Today, Vice President Joe Biden held a Middle Class Task Force event on solutions for families balancing the dual demands of work and caring for family.  The Vice President and members of the White House Middle Class Task Force and Council on Women and Girls announced recommendations from the Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force and discussed the Administration’s ongoing commitment to improving work-family balance for all Americans.

Chair of the White House Middle Class Task Force, Vice President Biden said: “Women make up nearly half of all workers on U.S. payrolls, and two-thirds of families with children are headed either by two working parents or by a single parent who works. Yet, the workplace has, for the most part, not changed to reflect these realities – and it must.  Closing the gender pay gap, helping parents keep their jobs while balancing family responsibilities, and increasing workplace flexibility – these are not only women’s issues, they are issues of middle class economic security.”

To implement President Obama’s pledge in the State of the Union address to crack down on violations of equal pay laws, the Administration created the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, bringing together the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the Department of Labor (“DOL”), and the Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”).

Although a number of laws exist to address equal pay enforcement, the Task Force has identified five persistent challenges in this area, made recommendations to address each challenge, and developed an action plan to implement those recommendations.  The recommendations from the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force are as follows:

  1. Improve interagency coordination and enforcement efforts to maximize effectiveness of existing authorities.
  2. Collect data on the private workforce to better understand the scope of the pay gap and target enforcement efforts.
  3. Undertake a public education campaign to educate employers on their obligations and employees on their rights.
  4. Implement a strategy to improve the federal government’s role as a model employer.
  5. Work with Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.
  6. To read more about this set of recommendations and action plan, please click here.

The White House Council on Women and Girls also announced the White House’s launch of a Work-Flex Event Starter Kit to encourage greater dialogue around workplace flexibility at the community level and bring people together to start making changes. Employees, businesses, and universities are encouraged to use the Event Starter Kit to host a discussion in their own community about how innovative workplace flexibility policies can help employees balance work and family responsibilities, while simultaneously improving employers’ bottom lines.  To view the White House’s Work-Flex Event Starter Kit, please click here.

At the event, the Vice President was joined by Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, and Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Jacqueline Berrien.  Lilly Ledbetter, the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed by President Obama to fight pay discrimination and ensure fundamental fairness to American workers, introduced the Vice President.

The Department of Justice:  Attorney General Eric Holder pledged that the Department of Justice and other enforcement agencies will coordinate and collaborate through investigations, litigation, policy guidance, data analysis, and public education efforts to make meaningful progress in closing the wage gap.  Already, the Justice Department, in conjunction with the EEOC and four of its district offices, has launched a robust and intensive pilot program to coordinate the investigation and litigation of charges against state and local government employers.  The Department is also coordinating with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to better enforce the laws that protect the civil rights of employees of federal contractors.  The Attorney General recommitted the Department of Justice to these critical efforts and to ensuring equal opportunity and equal treatment in the workplace. For more information, please visit:  http://www.justice.gov/.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:  The EEOC committed to engage in increased outreach and education to improve awareness of wage discrimination laws; evaluate wage data collection needs and current capabilities, working in concert with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) to avoid duplicative data collection efforts; work with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to improve the federal government’s status as a model employer; and work with the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice to improve interagency coordination toward enforcement of our nation’s wage discrimination laws.  For more information, please visit:  http://www.eeoc.gov/.

The Department of Labor:  Through a collaborative effort between the Departments of Labor, Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Administration will ensure strategic enforcement of pay discrimination cases. In addition to hiring nearly 200 more enforcement staff, DOL will publish an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking early next year.  The ANPRM will seek input from stakeholders on how the Equal Opportunity survey can be improved.  The Labor Department will also launch new public education efforts, including an Equal Pay Checklist, a revamping of the Equal Pay Employer Self-Audit tool, and hosting an Equal Pay Research Summit.

To address issues related to work/family balance, the Labor Department will conduct a new Family and Medical Leave Act survey in 2011.  The survey will provide needed insights into how families use leave. In addition to baseline data collection, the survey will also provide information on regulatory changes including a recent administrative interpretation of the FMLA. In 2011, DOL intends to sponsor a supplement to the American Time Use Survey.  The data collection will be designed to gather more information on parental leave, child care responsibilities, family leave insurance program usage, and other issues related to the intersection of work and family responsibilities.  Building on the White House’s Flexibility Forum, the Department will also host a series of “National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility” forums across the country.  For more information about the U.S. Labor Department’s pay equity and workplace flexibility initiatives, please visit:  http://www.dol.gov/.