Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Congressmen Bass and Tonko Seek to Restore Funds to Key Department of Energy Programs

Bryan Howard
Legislative Director
U.S. Green Building Council

UPDATE: The amendment failed.

As Congressional leaders and the Obama Administration continue to negotiate over long term deficit reduction and the raising of the federal deficit ceiling, the U.S. House of Representatives this week is considering the funding for the Energy and Water Appropriations.

H.R. 2354, the fiscal year 2012 Energy and Water Development Appropriations, is over $1 billion below the amount appropriated in 2011 and almost $6 billion below the President’s budget request for 2012. Important programs in energy efficiency and green building take a hit. The building technologies program at the Department of Energy (DOE), for example is slated to have their funding reduced by over $60 million. The good news is there is an effort afoot to restore the funding to building technologies and other key energy programs.

Congressman Bass (NH) and Congressman Tonko (NY) have introduced a bipartisan amendment to provide funding at the same levels as fiscal year 2011 for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), the State Energy Program (SEP), and the Buildings Technology Program at the DOE. The amendment has support from a broad coalition of supporters, the building industry, efficiency and environmental advocates and is buttressed by the real results of leveraging private sector investment and helping to reduce energy use of consumers nationwide. In a letter to members, Congressman Tonko and Bass site an Oak Ridge National Laboratory study that found every federal dollar invested in the weatherization program that $7 in energy savings are achieved, and almost $11 in non-federal funds are brought to bear.
At a time when everyone needs to do more with less, the administration need to take a thorough review of government programs but they should not minimize federal investments that support long term job growth and have a positive economic and environmental effect. Congressmen Bass and Tonko are right to reinstate funds to these important programs.

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