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Should you support the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill?

A bill sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Rob Portman seeks to save more than $1.2 trillion in wasted energy costs
A bill sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Rob Portman seeks to save more than $1.2 trillion in wasted energy costs
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Studies have shown that the United States has the capacity to reduce the amount of non-transportation energy it uses by 23% within the next six years. It is estimated that doing so could save more than $1.2 trillion in wasted energy costs.

That is the impetus behind an energy efficiency bill that – in a rare act of bipartisanship – is being sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH). When first introduced last year, the bill simply sought to create new energy-saving standards for homes and businesses.

The goal was to strengthen building codes, encourage manufacturing efficiency, and called for improvements in energy equipment in government building and technology infrastructure. As is typical with much well-intentioned legislation, the bill languished in the Senate.

Now, however, a revamped bill is gaining traction in Congress. It includes bipartisan amendments, such as the extension of these standards to public low-income housing projects and a new “Tenant Star” recognition program to acknowledge energy-saving achievements in schools and businesses. If passed, the Shaheen-Portman Bill will be the first energy legislation passed by the Senate since 2007.

Proponents of the bill claim it will save consumers $59 billion through 2030 and will not contribute at all to the federal deficit as the new energy technologies will swiftly pay for themselves. Opponents maintain that the measure would create a number of wasteful programs and would fail to change the climate in any meaningful way because the federal government is the single largest energy user in the country and has less incentive than businesses and homeowners to save money.

To learn more about the Shaheen-Portman Bill so you can decide whether or not to support it, click here. Whichever side you choose, Floridian citizens and businesses can call or write Senators Bill Nelson (202-224-5274, www.billnelson.senate/contact-bill) and/or Marco Rubio (202-224-3041, www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact).