by Michele Combs
Boosting energy efficiency helps strengthen our economy, and leads to a better and healthier future for all Americans. So we at Young Conservatives for Energy Reform are excited about the possibility of Congress passing common-sense energy efficiency legislation for the first time since the George W. Bush administration.
The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, sponsored by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vermont) and Rep. David McKinley (R-West Virginia), has passed the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support. Now it’s the Senate’s turn to consider similar legislation: the bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire).
Both bills cover commercial buildings. Businesses taking advantage of energy efficiency improvements would reduce costs, boosting their bottom lines and strengthening the economy. And some of those savings would likely be passed onto customers, saving families money. Energy efficiency legislation would also create badly needed jobs. And in these rocky economic times, we need all the new jobs we can get.
Energy efficiency legislation would also prod the government to adopt energy-saving practices, curbing energy waste and saving taxpayer money. That is especially important because the federal government is the single biggest guzzler of energy in the United States. Every year, the government spends $7 billion on building-related energy costs alone, and much of that energy gets wasted through inefficiency. One estimate suggests improving government buildings’ energy systems could result in savings of more than $1 billion every year.
During previous efforts to pass it, the Shaheen-Portman bill has attracted endorsements from a wide variety of organizations, from the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers to public interest groups. It is the kind of common-sense effort that Young Conservatives for Energy Reform supports: energy action that is rooted in our values.
I’m a mother, and when I was pregnant I was stunned to be told not to eat fish because of mercury pollution. I began to learn about the way burning fossil fuels pollutes our water and our air. And it led me to wonder why America is not leading the world in cleaner energy innovation, including becoming more energy efficient so we don’t need to burn as much polluting fuel in the first place.
As President Reagan put it, “Preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge. It’s common sense.” I believe every American of every political stripe wants clean air and water.
The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act is good for families and the economy. Here’s hoping that this sensible energy efficiency legislation becomes law.
A former “Young Republican of the Year,” Michele Combs is the President and Founder ofYoung Conservatives for Energy Reform.