Grassley hates idling

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) earned a reputation as a penny pincher in the 1980s when he took on the U.S. Department of Defense and its contractors, finding the agency paid exorbitant prices for things like toilet seats and the common, everyday hammer.  Now Grassley's passion for penny-pinching is targeting government cars that are going nowhere. The following news release was issued by Grassley's senate office on Tuesday:

Grassley fired up about idling federal vehicles

            WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley today urged President Barack Obama to join his campaign against the wasteful practice of letting federal vehicles idle.  Grassley is making his case in a new YouTube video, which he released today along with a copy of his letter to the President.

  “With Americans trimming spending in their budgets, I’m asking the President to trim the federal budget by looking into the most inefficient use of energy, a car that gets zero miles per gallon.  Changing this bad habit doesn’t add up to a lot of money, but it would send an important signal.  The federal government needs to demonstrate in every way possible that it can be a good steward of taxpayer dollars and lead by example for energy conservation.”

Grassley asked President George W. Bush for the same review last summer when gas was $4.00 a gallon.  “Nothing’s changed.  Every day you see government town cars and SUVs idling outside the capitol waiting on administration officials and other VIPs, including members of Congress,” Grassley said.

Here is a copy of the text of Grassley’s letter to Obama.        

April 7, 2009

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

You’ve spoken on a number of occasions about the importance of investing in priorities such as energy production and conservation.  You’ve referenced the billions of taxpayer dollars you believe could be saved by modernizing and increasing the efficiency of federal buildings.  I know you recognize that in many areas of energy consumption and conservation the federal government should be leading the effort.  For that reason, I am compelled to suggest an energy efficiency approach that will save taxpayer dollars without requiring a single dollar of federal spending. 

In recent weeks, my staff and I have personally witnessed numerous town cars and sport utility vehicles belonging to administration officials sitting and idling.  I can only imagine that there must be hundreds of federal government SUVs and sedans idling for hours each day without reasonable justification. Unfortunately, those at the highest levels, including cabinet secretaries, assistant secretaries and senior White House staff are likely among the worst offenders.

Last summer, when gas prices topped $4.00 a gallon, I called on President Bush to commit the federal government to reduce wasteful energy consumption by turning off idling federal vehicles.  While I recognize that gas prices are well below those highs, this practice is wasteful regardless of the price of fuel.  Importantly, when hard-working American families are struggling to make ends meet, the federal government must ensure that each dollar paid in taxes is spent as wisely and efficiently as possible.  I know you’ll agree that turning off idling government vehicles is a common-sense step that could easily be taken.

Blatantly wasteful behavior such as this presents an image of a federal government that is out of touch with today’s dire economic situation that many American workers and families are facing.

I hope that you will order your new cabinet officials and all those in the executive branch to eliminate this wasteful and embarrassing behavior that is squandering valuable resources.  This is a bad habit that needs to be broken, and I look forward to hearing of your actions to ensure the efficient use of energy by federal government employees and vehicles.  Thank you for your consideration.



                                                                        Charles E. Grassley
                                                                        United States Senator


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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.