Energy Efficiency Plays Key Role in Congress’s Major New Climate Plan
Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee unveiled the outlines of a sweeping climate bill this afternoon, and a look inside shows a host of ambitious energy efficiency policies. That is smart thinking, considering efficiency measures alone could cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050. It’s also no coincidence that the package is led in large part by two leading efficiency champions and members of the Alliance to Save Energy’s Honorary Board of Advisors – Reps. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.).
The legislative framework, announced by Rush, Tonko and Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) is expected to be translated into a bill in the coming months. Here are some of the key energy efficiency measures in the package:
- Provisions that promote the domestic manufacture and use of advanced fuel-efficient and zero emission vehicles and encourage the development of infrastructure to support them. The transportation sector represents a massive opportunity to reduce domestic energy consumption.
- Increased funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program. Low-income Americans in rural and urban areas spend a far greater share of their income on energy cost. This program has already helped millions of families by permanently reducing their energy bills. For every dollar invested in weatherization, $1.72 is generated in energy benefits and another $2.78 in non-energy benefits. An increase in funding for this program will help more American families in need and generate savings for the economy.
- Improvements in the energy efficiency of public buildings. The Committee’s plan would leverage energy savings performance contracts and a newly established Federal Smart Building Program to cut down on energy use in America’s public buildings. The document also includes plans to improve the energy efficiency of public schools.
- Incorporates the HOMES Act, introduced by Alliance Honorary Advisor Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), which establishes a Home Energy Savings Retrofit Rebate Program to fund residential energy efficiency improvements. This is critical because homes account for some 20 percent of U.S. energy consumption.
Meanwhile, the committee is holding a meeting Thursday to consider nine bills, including key bipartisan legislation to promote energy efficiency upgrades in federal facilities through contracts between federal agencies and private contractors, as well as Rep. Rush’s major electric vehicle bill.
It is all encouraging news – and underlines how many smart energy efficiency policies are ready and available to reduce carbon emissions. The challenge, of course, will be to put these policies into practice, and we look forward to working with lawmakers in both parties to move these and other energy efficiency policies forward.