Developing energy solutions for the 21st century means simultaneously tackling two of the biggest challenges of our time: mitigating climate change and revitalizing our economy. This means we need to focus on policy solutions that deliver results without compromising on either front as we plan for a clean energy future. The U.S. Senate is set to consider the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (S. 761) sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH). This bipartisan package presents a real, achievable route to saving money for consumers, increasing American energy security and reducing emissions.
The All-Of-The-Above Federal Building Energy Conservation Act of 2013 (S. 1199) by Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) is among a series of potential amendments to Shaheen-Portman, and is a workable path to more efficient federal buildings that all parties can agree on today. The proposed bill is a cost-effective, fuel-neutral means to save taxpayers money by enhancing the energy efficiency of federal buildings. The Senate must vote to include this bill in Shaheen-Portman in order to allow us to continue to access the benefits of domestic, clean and economically-viable resources while ensuring passage of crucial energy savings legislation.
Having already earned the support of energy efficiency advocates including the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Alliance to Save Energy, S. 1199 has proved to be a workable replacement for the component of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) requiring the phase out of fossil fuels in federal buildings by 2030 – Section 433. Many are concerned that Section 433 could actually discourage comprehensive energy efficiency renovations, stifle innovation and result in increased energy costs for the federal government at a time when agencies must tighten their belts. Steven Nadel, Executive Director of the ACEEE recently testified at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Energy Hearing that ACEEE supports S. 1199 because Section 433 is not workable and that S. 1199 would actually “result in larger energy savings than repeal of Section 433 would lose.”
The goals of section 433 were to enable the federal government to reduce emissions, become more efficient, and reduce costs. Eliminating the direct use of natural gas from the energy mix ignores a clean, efficient and affordable way help achieve these objectives. The provisions in S. 1199 would give federal building energy managers flexibility to achieve reductions in federal energy consumption in a cost-effective manner, encourage the adoption of energy efficient technologies and practices, and spur the retrofits of federal buildings.
Any law enacted with the intent to reduce greenhouse gasses, promote energy efficiency or reduce the cost of energy in federal buildings must take into account how energy is presently delivered and what federal building energy managers believe is achievable. The Hoeven-Manchin amendment was developed with bipartisan support by a coalition of industry and efficiency and environmental advocates and provides the best opportunity to become law and achieve the stated goals of the Energy Independence and Security Act.
On June 25, President Obama delivered his Climate Action Plan at Georgetown University. Laying out a vision for a cleaner future, he emphasized that the solution is “not an either/or; it’s a both/and.” Americans should not have to choose between economic prosperity and environmental health. We can make our federal buildings more efficient and cut government spending without turning our backs on any eligible, clean and economically-viable resources. The All-Of-The-Above Federal Building Energy Conservation Act of 2013 is a smart way to achieve greater energy efficiency in federal buildings using all available cost-effective measures. This is why it has the support of efficiency experts and advocates across the energy and environment space.