Teamwork Proves Necessary: Shaheen-Portman Drive for Efficiency

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In order to move forward with conservation, our country requires energy efficient programs and initiatives. These programs tell the country about opportunities to save energy, and even offer incentives. Unfortunately, in Congress, it seems like members are running in all different directions and cannot agree on a conclusion. Thankfully, two senators have merged over the ideal chance for bipartisanship: energy efficiency. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) are joining together to support lower utility bills, more domestic jobs, reliable energy sources, and cleaner air in our country.

Last spring, Shaheen and Portman brought forth their bipartisan act: the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. This act will improve energy efficiency in both homes and commercial buildings, provide proper training for green jobs, support government programs for industrial efficiency, and reduce energy waste in federal buildings. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) helped this act pass through the Senate Energy Committee with a vote of 19-3, but the act hit a block on the Senate floor.

Together, Shaheen and Portman altered their original plan in hopes of pushing it through the Senate floor. The pair added amendments to address prior concerns and gain even more bipartisan support. These amendments include asking the SAVE Act from Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) to address energy efficiency in underwriting mortgages, the Better Buildings Act from Senators Bennet and Kelly Avotte (R-NH) to include help for tenants in commercial buildings to save energy, and the Energy Efficient Government Technology Act from Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and James Risch (R-ID) to reduce energy use in government data centers.

The proposed act also addresses concerns about the laws that are currently in place. Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) are working on improving federal building requirements, Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) are working with ENERGY STAR® testing, Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) are exploring equipment certification, and many more. The bipartisan measures give the proposals hope for moving forward. Collaboration is key for success on the Senate floor.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) estimates that the revised Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act will add over 190,000 net jobs in 2030, reach 12 quads of cumulative energy savings by 2030, save consumers close to $100 billion in that same time, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The carbon dioxide reduction will be equivalent to taking about 22 million cars and light trucks off of the road.

Even the House of Representatives is participating in the energy efficient movement. The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently passed the Better Buildings Act, sponsored by Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT). The House has said that there is more bipartisan energy efficient support in the future.

With the Shaheen-Portman proposal at the forefront of bipartisan energy efficient legislature, we are hoping to see huge advances in our country’s energy savings. The government realizes the importance of conserving energy, and joins together to pass bills to promote and spread efficiency. This bill’s passing will benefit our country, no matter what political party you belong to. Energy efficiency is necessary for our country as one bipartisan unit.