With Overwhelming Bipartisan Support, the U.S. Senate Yesterday Began Moving a Common Sense Energy Efficiency Bill. Here’s Why We’re Celebrating.
Well, the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and Appalachian Voices all agree — it’s time for America to move forward with energy efficiency.
Yesterday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed the Shaheen-Portman Energy Savings Act (S 761) by a vote of 19-3. This legislation focuses on improving building codes, while increasing energy efficiency at the industrial level and for federal government facilities.
There was some very encouraging discussion on the bill (starting at 30:35-41:10, and picking up again at 42 minutes).
Democratic Chairman Sen. Ron Ryden of Oregon and Ranking Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski were among those speaking in favor of the measure. Appalachia’s senators all voted AYE, including Republican bill sponsor Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, Tennessee’s senior Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. Appalachian Voices applauds these members in their pursuit to increase energy efficiency in our region.
Below is Appalachian Voices’ statement on passage of the bill, followed by the full vote count:
On behalf of our members, Appalachian Voices strongly supports the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 761). Since much of the region’s economy depends on the manufacturing and industrial sectors, this Act will provide significant benefits for Appalachian businesses, communities and local economies. These benefits include reduced energy costs, increased competitiveness, economic development and job creation, and healthier communities. As we expand our recently-launched Energy Savings for Appalachia program, our goal will be to serve as a partner to state and local governments who would benefit from the opportunities provided by this Act.
Appalachian Voices applauds the collaborative, bi-partisan nature of this legislation. For too long, partisan conflict has negatively impacted our ability to maximize our nation’s economic potential. That potential is directly tied to the efficient use of resources and energy. In addition, impacts to the environment and to the health of our citizens resulting from the extraction and consumption of fossil-fuels have a direct negative impact on the economy. Therefore, it is refreshing to know that our elected representatives have found common ground with the understanding that a strong economy is an efficient economy.
The requirements and models laid out in the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act provide a strong boost for energy efficiency, which has long been promoted as the “low-hanging fruit” for energy development. As recognized by the Act, energy-efficient technologies are already available, and are extremely cost-effective, paying for themselves over a short period of time. The Act also recognizes that strengthening our economy through improvements in energy efficiency is also a long-term investment, one that requires research and development, workforce training, and strong financial incentives for businesses.
While we fully support the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act as currently written, Appalachian Voices believes that the bill could be strengthened in the following ways:
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