Bipartisan Vote In The U.S. Senate On Energy Efficiency

Rob Portman (D-OH)

Rob Portman (D-OH)

Last week, the U.S. Senate actually made some progress addressing climate change. Well, not explicitly.  But a late-night vote on a bipartisan bill will help the federal government improve energy efficiency in buildings. There are lots of good reasons to encourage energy efficiency (mainly saving money), but it also just happens to be a major part of the strategy to help with the climate fight.

Perhaps even more encouraging was the bipartisan authorship, with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) co-authoring along with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire). Portman was one of just five Republican senators to admit earlier this year that climate change is real and that humans are playing a role.

Here are some details on the bill from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

The bill’s features aren’t exactly sexy. Portman’s staff says the bill “establishes a voluntary, market-driven approach to aligning the interests of commercial building owners and their tenants to reduce energy consumption.” It exempts certain electric resistance water heaters from pending Department of Energy regulation.

It requires federal agencies to coordinate strategies on energy-efficient information technologies. And it requires that federally leased buildings without Energy Star labels disclose their energy usage when practical.

That won’t quite fit in a soundbite response to the NRDC and Portman’s other environmental critics.

Yet Portman explains it all as simply “good for the economy and good for the environment.”

It’s easy to get caught up in solar panels, batteries, and electric vehicles (I certainly do), but if we don’t get more efficient with the energy we have, those other technology pieces won’t be enough. This bill is overall a pretty small step, but it’s solidly in the right direction.


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