This post was written by Senator Jeanne Shaheen:
The United States has very serious energy challenges. We remain overly dependent on foreign oil and reliant on an outdated energy infrastructure that harms American businesses and gives our overseas competitors an unfair advantage. Gasoline prices are on the rise again and monthly electricity prices are straining our wallets. In addition, dirty, fossil-fueled power plants continue to pollute our nation’s air, contributing to global warming and threatening the health of our citizens. Congress needs to come together and take action to improve our country’s energy policy.
Unfortunately, many promising solutions have stalled in Congress due to the deep partisan divides over what the future of our energy policy should look like. But one area of energy policy where Democrats and Republicans can agree is energy efficiency. Using less energy is key to obtaining energy security and growing a thriving economy, as well as to keeping our skies clean and Americans healthy.
Improving energy efficiency is the fastest and cheapest way to begin addressing our energy needs. It is the “first fuel” when it comes to transitioning to a clean and sustainable energy future. We can start improving our efficiency now by installing commercially available technologies such as modern heating and cooling systems, smart meters, computer-controlled thermostats and low-energy lighting. There are substantial opportunities that exist across all sectors of our economy to conserve energy, create jobs and clean up our environment. The time to act is now.
There is broad, bipartisan support for energy efficiency, and you can see it in the support for a bill I introduced with Senator Rob Portman, a Republican Senator from Ohio. The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, also known as Shaheen-Portman, creates and implements a national strategy that will increase the use of energy efficiency technologies in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors of our economy, while also fostering job creation. The bill, S.1000, is currently awaiting action in the Senate.
S.1000 provides incentives and support for residential and commercial buildings to cut energy use, helps manufacturers finance and implement energy efficient production practices and requires the federal government, the single largest user of energy in the country, to adopt more efficient building standards and smart metering technology.
Shaheen-Portman would have a swift and measurable benefit to our economy and our environment. A recent study by experts at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy found that our legislation would save consumers $4 billion by 2020 and help businesses add 80,000 jobs to the economy. It would also cut carbon-dioxide emissions by the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road.
American citizens want to see Congress act on energy issues. Shaheen-Portman has over 200 endorsements from a wide range of businesses, environmental groups, think tanks and trade associations ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the Environmental Defense Fund. This bill has the kind of support it needs to pass the Senate and become law. We need to get it to the floor for a vote.
If you agree, you can sign my online petition that calls on Senate Leadership to bring our bill to the floor. We are urging the leaders of both parties to reach a bipartisan agreement that will allow for a vote on the Shaheen-Portman proposal. I’ve already collected nearly 5,000 signatures from supporters across the country and the number is still growing.
I urge you to add your voice to this important call. Learn more about the legislation by visiting my website at www.shaheen.senate.gov. Together, we can usher in a clean energy economy to create a better future for ourselves and our children.