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Shaheen and Portman Reintroduce Stalled Energy Efficiency Bill

NHPR Staff

  Thursday Senator Jeanne Shaheen reintroduced a wide-ranging energy bill that would promote energy efficiency buildings and appliances. But Shaheen and her co-sponsor, Ohio Republican Rob Portman, had to make some compromises to get the long-stalled legislation moving again.

The Shaheen-Portman bill was first introduced in 2011, but hasn’t been able to advance out of the Senate despite by-partisan support. Since it was pulled from the floor in October, its sponsors have been shopping it around for additional support, and making some compromises. A list of ten new amendments was circulated with the bill.

“We know energy efficiency is the cheapest fastest way to deal with our energy needs,” said Shaheen in a phone interview, “so I’m really hopeful that we have some additional sponsors on the bill that we’re able this time to get it through the senate and have a good reception in the house.”

One of the compromises is a rider repealing a 2007 requirement that all federal buildings be off fossil fuels by 2030. “Unfortunately even though that sounds very good, there were never rules written by the department of energy because there were challenges with how to do that,” Shaheen said of the change, “and so it never went into effect and it’s not saving energy.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the amendment would save $10 million dollars in direct spending. The move has infuriated some in the green building community.

With the tweaks – which also include provisions allowing third parties to certify energy star appliances, and one that asks HUD to perform energy retrofits on low-income housing – the senator says the bill now has the 60 votes it needs to overcome a filibuster.

The bill has failed to make it off the Senate floor previously because it was threatened with amendments defunding so-called Obamacare or authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline.

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