Thursday, June 16, 2011

Congress Stymies Better Buildings Initiative

Politicians in both Republican and Democratic parties say they believe issue number one in the upcoming Congressional and Presidential elections is job creation. You would think this would make it easy to move legislative initiatives that would create jobs, conserve energy, and lower taxes. Yet one such initiative proposed by the Obama administration is so stalled in Congress that no one is moving any bill to implement the program.

On February 3, 2011, the White House proposed its Better Buildings Initiative, to improve energy efficiency of existing buildings, reduce the energy bills of businesses and consumers, and conserve energy. According to a report released Monday, June 13, 2011 by The U S Green Building Council, The Real Estate Roundtable and The Natural Resources Defense Council, the administration’s proposed program would create 114,000 new jobs, 77,000 of them in the severely depressed construction industry. The Better Buildings Initiative was also the subject of a portion of testimony by U. S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary David Sandalow before the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on June 3. As described, the Better Buildings Initiative will provide new tax incentives for building energy efficiency, new financing for retrofits of existing buildings, and streamlined building code provisions and performance requirements.

According to Roger Platt, a senior vice president of The Green Buildings Council, the Better Buildings Initiative will “lower energy consumption, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and allow America to retain its competitive edge in the international economy.” What’s not to like?

Congressional Committees with jurisdiction include: House Ways and Means, Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and its Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee, Chairman Pat Tiberi (R-OH); House Energy and Commerce, Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and its Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY); and House Science, Space and Technology, Chairman Ralph M. Hall (R-TX) and its Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Chairman Andy Harris (R-MD). The websites of these committees and subcommittees are filled with diatribe attacking the Obama administration for inaction on the jobs and tax reduction fronts, yet there is no mention whatsoever of the Obama administration’s Better Buildings Initiative.

Republican politicians at all levels say they want lower taxes, less dependence on foreign oil, and more jobs. Private sector evaluation of the proposals in the Better Buildings Initiative says it will achieve all three goals. A polite letter to the committee chairmen listed above, pointing out that there should be strong bipartisan support for this proposal, and inquiring why it is going nowhere in the House, might kick some Republican butt, and get this job creator moving.

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