GPO and Dept. of Energy take going green to the next level

Monday - 10/5/2009, 12:51pm EDT

Bob Tapella

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By Emily Jarvis
Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio

Every day millions of pieces of paper are printed, copied and distributed by the members of Congress. The Government Printing Office is now making that process a little more eco-friendly. The GPO is now printing the daily Congressional Record and many other documents on recycled paper.

"In 2008 we put a call out to industry to see if we could find a more sustainable paper choice," said Bob Tapella, GPO's Public Printer. Tapella joined Jane Norris and Tom Temin on the Federal Drive.

After a little over a year they had their answer. Recycled paper.

"It meets all of our standards," said Tapella. And those are some rigorous standards. The paper not only had to be approved by the GPO but it also had to pass a Joint Committee on Printing. "We went through a process of testing the papers, we were very concerned about printability and runability. Printability of the ink adhesion to the paper and the runability getting the paper through the printing press and the finishing equipment and into the mail."

Tapella says, "Part of the reason it took us nearly a year before we could implement the paper was because we have tested the paper under all sorts of different conditions."

The recycled paper costs $0.39 cents per pound, the same amount as before.

The GPO hopes their emphasis on going green, "might inspire industry to invest more in sustainable products."

That thought is mirrored in the Department of Energy's push to build more alternative fueling stations around the country.

"The federal government has 650,000 vehicles under a mandate to reduce petroleum consumption. Both by executive order and statutory mandate, the government is trying to turn to more efficient vehicles," said Brad Gustafson, who works with the Energy Department's Federal Energy Management Program.

"Right now there are 130,000 alternative fuel vehicles in the government fleet and about half of them don't have a place to re-fuel," said Gustafson.

This lack of fueling stations will be the primary focus on Thursday's Alternative Energy Forum in Crystal City Va.

"The midwest has a large number of stations but outside of that there just aren't many," said Gustafson, "I think it is a question of awareness."

This will be the second Alternative Energy Forum. "Last year we published locations of where our alternative fuel vehicles were located. After that there was a tremendous development of stations to serve our fleets, now we just need to take it one step further," said Gustafson.

The GPO recently acquired nine alternative fuel vehicles of their own.

"GPO is saving taxpayer money and lowering its environmental impact by putting these new vehicles to work," said GSA Deputy Administrator Barnaby Brasseux.

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