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
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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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