Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Shaheen-Portman Energy Effiency Bill Receives Bipartisan Support

Bipartisan sponsorship is no guarantee of success as seen as the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill struggles to pass in the House of Representatives. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman(R-Ohio) created an energy efficiency bill last year that received positive feedback and widespread support; however, the only thing halting the success of this bill are the amendments lawmakers are trying to attach to it. These laws concern controversial topics of climate change, the Keystone XL Pipeline, ethanol, and several others. The bill has not yet been schedule for floor debate, for Shaheen and Portman are still deciding which amendments may be detrimental to the success of this bill in the Senate. 

The Shaheen-Portman energy bill up for consideration
Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Rob Portman

The Shaheen-Portman bill is also known as Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. The bill works to create energy efficiency in buildings, the manufacturing sector, and federal facilities. It seeks to lower energy costs for both producers and consumers and boost the nation's economic competitiveness while minimizing the United States' carbon footprint.

The bill has undergone many revisions in the past year with several amendments being dropped including the removal of a building loan program. However, several additions have been made. The Secretary of Energy will now be charged with providing grants to states to promote energy efficiency in the private sector and commercial buildings. Additionally, new measures have been added to promote energy efficiency in buildings by creating stronger building energy codes, providing rebates for energy efficient equipment, and creating new efficiency requirements for federal agencies.

The bill seeks to reduce the federal deficit by reducing energy costs across several economic sectors and strives to improve the environment, so it's no wonder why it has received bipartisan support. The bill is also expected to create additional jobs for energy research, development, and commercialization of new technology. Additionally, the federal government is the largest energy consumer in the nation, and by creating stricter regulations for these agencies, the bill is expected to reduce the deficit and save taxpayers' money. Senator Portman commented on the bill, stating: "Washington can seem pretty divided these days, but there are some things on which we can all agree. This bill is one of them – it’s good for the economy and good for the environment. By making it easier for employers to use energy efficient tools, we are helping them to reduce their costs, enabling them to put those savings toward expanding their companies and hiring new workers."

It is estimated that if the Shaheen-Portman bill were to pass, it would save 9.5 quadrillion Btu's (British Thermal Units) by 2030. This is equivalent to about 1/10 of the United States' annual energy usage, and while lawmakers are quick to amend the bill, Senators Shaheen and Portman are trying to limit these unrelated changes. If lawmakers can work together, then the bill should pass for Senate consideration soon.