White House to Extend Energy-Efficiency Initiative

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 27: U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) (L) speaks as Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) (R) listens during a news conference on Syria June 27, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The legislators held a news conference on S.1201 and H.R.2494, bills to 'restrict funds related to escalating United States military involvement in Syria.'
National Journal
Clare Foran
Add to Briefcase
Clare Foran
Dec. 3, 2013, 9:25 a.m.

Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans are join­ing hands back­ing en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency pro­grams, and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is tak­ing no­tice.

The White House an­nounced Tues­day that it will ex­tend a pres­id­en­tial memor­andum call­ing on fed­er­al agen­cies to achieve $2 bil­lion in en­ergy sav­ings dur­ing a two-year peri­od.

The ini­ti­at­ive, which has led agen­cies to identi­fy an es­tim­ated $2.3 bil­lion in sav­ings through the im­ple­ment­a­tion of en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency meas­ures in fed­er­al build­ings, began in 2011 and was set to ex­pire this year. The pro­gram will now con­tin­ue through 2016.

The de­cision ar­rives amid a groundswell of sup­port in Con­gress for en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency ef­forts.

Last month, Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Cory Gard­ner, R-Colo., led a bi­par­tis­an co­ali­tion of 118 House mem­bers and 28 sen­at­ors in a re­quest that the pres­id­ent ex­tend the ini­ti­at­ive. In a let­ter, the co­ali­tion asked the White House to grant a five-year, $5 bil­lion ex­ten­sion of the pro­gram.

Welch and Gard­ner have also in­tro­duced le­gis­la­tion that would dir­ect agen­cies to enter in­to $1 bil­lion worth of per­form­ance con­tracts an­nu­ally for five years to boost ef­fi­ciency in fed­er­al build­ings.

Re­act­ing to the news that the pres­id­ent would ex­tend the ini­ti­at­ive, Welch ap­plauded the de­cision but com­men­ted that the ex­ec­ut­ive branch’s ef­fort should be paired with le­gis­lat­ive ac­tion. He also said he will work with Gard­ner to press the ad­min­is­tra­tion for a spe­cified tar­get amount in sav­ings.

“The White House ini­ti­at­ive needs to have a spe­cif­ic goal,” Welch said. “A con­crete goal tends to get bet­ter res­ults and it’s much more likely to suc­ceed if we have both a con­crete goal and a le­gis­lat­ive com­mit­ment as well.”

Welch also said he be­lieves the pres­id­ent’s de­cision will in­crease mo­mentum to pass an en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency bill in Con­gress. “It’s great to see the ad­min­is­tra­tion sig­nal­ing its com­mit­ment to this is­sue. We have the White House back­ing this and we have broad bi­par­tis­an sup­port which is really rare to see right now,” he com­men­ted.

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