Time is Running out for Shaheen-Portman
As 2013 comes to a close, we can sit back and reflect all of the monumental events of the year. Thanksgivukah happened, DOMA was overturned, Edward Snowden leaked the NSA's mass surveillance program, and Healthcare.gov got off to a rough start. Let's not forget the government shutdown and the Congressional gridlock that brought that about. Unsurprisingly, the 113th Congress will go down in history as the least productive in United States history. This Congress has only passed 55 bills into law this year and with only a handful of days left, chances are slim that many more will get passed. But anything's possible, right? One of those bills that we would like to see passed is the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013, or more commonly known as the Shaheen-Portman Bill.
What is the Shaheen-Portman Bill?
The bipartisan bill would strengthen national model building codes, spur the use of energy efficient technologies in the commercial, industrial, and residential sectors, and increase conservation efforts within the federal government. By focusing on sectors with known energy-savings potential, the bill projects broad impacts on our economy, energy stock, and environment. In their analysis of the bill's previous version, the ACEEE found Shaheen-Portman could provide billions in consumer savings, create over one-hundred thousand jobs, and save around 9.5 quadrillion BTU of energy over the next two decades.
The bill has also captured the magical unicorn of politics: bipartisan support. The bill is cosponsored by a Democrat, Senator Shaheen of New Hampshire, and a Republican, Senator Portman of Ohio. It has also attracted more than 250 endorsements from a diverse coalition of stakeholders. We're big fans over here. In fact, here's our CTO, Barun Singh, with Senator Shaheen at the Small Business hearing he testified at back in October.
What's the hold up?
This is the first energy legislation to be debated in Congress since 2007, when the Energy Independence and Security Act was passed. Senators Shaheen and Portman have been working on the bill for three years now and it's had a bit of a bumpy road so far. A previous version of the bill was introduced during the last Congressional session, but despite widespread support, the bill never got to the floor due to last-minute additions of controversial amendments. In a second attempt, the bill was derailed by Republican David Vitter, who demanded the bill be coupled with an ObamaCare amendment.
If the bill fails again in the third round, it could potentially be a huge blow for energy policy in the US. "If we can't do this, it's going to be very difficult to do anything else on energy policy in this country," she said. "Senate leaders think the road to other legislation goes through passing Shaheen-Portman."
Three ways Shaheen Portman could strengthen the economy and help the environment
1) Create private sector jobs
According to the ACEEE, Shaheen Portman could potentially create 136,000 jobs by 2025. That number includes direct jobs like those in construction and manufacturing, as well as indirect jobs like electrical equipment wholesalers. The bill would also establish Building Training and Assessment Centers, where new engineers and technicians would be trained in energy efficient commercial building design and operations
2) Save businesses and consumers money
In a three-prong approach, the bill aims to improve energy efficiency in buildings, industrial processes, and federal agencies:
- Buildings: strengthen energy efficiency requirements for national building codes.
- Industrial Processes: increase the efficiency of manufacturing supply chain processes through the Supply Star program.
- Federal Agencies: apply energy savings tools to federal information and communication technologies. New federal buildings would also be required to meet sustainability standards.
Additionally, the bill is fully offset, meaning it will reallocate authorization from existing programs and would require no new spending.
3) Stand up to climate change
Energy efficiency is a very attractive option when it comes to addressing climate change because it's one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions and energy use. By tackling the energy hogs of our economy, like the building sector and federal government, it's projected that the Shaheen-Portman bill could reduce annual CO2 emissions by 29 million metric tons in 2020. That's the equivalent of taking about 7 million cars off the road!