Interior secretary nominee Sally Jewell and President Obama. (Susan Walsh/AP) Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and President Obama. (Susan Walsh/AP)

The Department of the Interior plans to replace one-third of its gas and alternative-fuel vehicles with hybrids, becoming the first agency to take part in a new federal program that covers additional costs for greening up government auto fleets as opposed to buying new gas guzzlers.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is scheduled to announce the plan during a Wednesday news conference at a D.C. park. “We are excited to be the first to partner with [the General Services Administration] on this important initiative to make our vehicles more fuel-efficient,” she said in a statement. “This is simply a good business decision that will benefit not only our bottom line but reduce our carbon emissions as well.”

The General Services Administration on Monday launched a new initiative to expand the federal hybrid fleet by 10,000 vehicles and reduce the government’s fuel consumption by 1 million gallons per year. Under that program, GSA has promised to pay for the incremental costs of replacing eligible automobiles with hybrids.

Interior expects to replace up to 300 vehicles from its fleet with hybrids. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, called the move “a bold step” for Jewell during her first month in office.

“What better time than Earth Week and what better agency than the Department of the Interior to be the first federal agency to update its fleet with hybrid vehicles,” Wyden said. “This move is good for the agency, good for the environment and sets a great example for practical ways to reduce our carbon footprint.”

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