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Low-Hanging Fruit
Green Policy We Can Believe In

Congress hasn’t been agreeing on much lately. This is especially true in the House, even more so when it comes to the ever-polarizing subject of green policymaking. That’s why the House’s recent passage of an energy efficiency and conservation bill 375-36 is so striking. As The Hill reports, lawmakers were able to find a common ground on the environment, and reached to pick one of the lowest-hanging fruits around:

The legislation, authored by Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and David McKinley (R-W.Va.), aims to boost energy conservation with a program called Tenant Star, which provides incentives to landlords and tenants who up their energy savings…The package, which passed 375-36, also promotes energy efficiency in federal agencies under a provision added by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.)

“I have long believed that energy efficiency is an area of common ground in this divided Congress,” Welch said during floor debate Tuesday on the bill. “Saving energy creates jobs, saves money and improves the environment. We have disagreements on the causes of climate change and the best fuel mix to meet America’s energy demands, but we can all agree that using less is more,” he said.

The bill will now need to be reconciled with the Shaheen-Portman Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act currently stalled in the Senate. That bill’s sponsors hope that the House’s example will spur the Senate to move on its own version, which was stymied by ACA and Keystone XL debates late last year.

This is one of the few areas of common green ground in American politics because it makes sense from just about every angle. Consuming less energy saves money and reduces environmental impacts. Our economy has become more energy efficient over the years, producing more GDP per amount of energy input, but there’s still room for improvement. Growth and green goals aren’t mutually exclusive, though the modern environmental movement believes them to be. That’s a failing greens will have to come to terms with if they want to be taken seriously by politicians elected on campaigns that cover more than just being kind to Gaia, and bills like the one the House just passed are a step in that direction.

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  • rheddles

    Consuming less energy saves money and reduces environmental impacts

    That depends on how long it takes to payback the initial investment and what the environmental impacts of the initial investment were. I don’t know anything about this bill, but nothing here persuades me either way.

    • Andrew Allison

      I’ve installed solar hot water and carefully studied the “benefits”. Even with large Federal, State, and Utility subsidies which paid most of the cost, it took about five years to recover the cost (not including the foregone income on the investment). What it overlooked is that the taxpayers and ratepayers who involuntarily funded most of the capital cost received no benefit whatsoever. Same for solar power and appliances (I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the ratepayers of my water utility, who paid 2/3 of the price of the new clothes washer I bought last year).

      • Jim__L

        Government of the philosopher kings, by the philosopher kings, turns into government for the philosopher kings much to easily — and perhaps predictably.

        The only winners here are the Greens, and they win very little aside from the satisfaction of imposing their views on everyone else.

  • Jim__L

    It’s OK as long as the changes don’t make affected devices less effective. From low-flow toilets to energy-“efficient” appliances, having to run jobs two or three times to get them done is not efficiency.

  • Paul Nelson

    Good grief, Walter! Self interest on the part of tenants (I’m one) and landlords assures the most logical and appropriate degree of conservation! Unless by some yet unachieved brilliance, the legislators and bureaucrats can surpass the market. With electricity at 12 cnts/kwh, gas at $6/mm BTU, gasoline at $4/gal., who needs Washington to tell them to conserve?! Not surprised by the votes of the dems, but why on earth would so many R’s support another nanny state dictate? Crony capitalists all the way down.

  • Richard T

    The private sector is already doing this. Last year, I bought a desk lamp at Wal-Mart. It came with a bulb … an energy-saving mini fluorescent, and yes, this was before the law against incandescent bulbs went into force. Too bad so many greens also hate Wal-Mart.

    Don’t forget that utilities are usually allowed to recoup the cost of building new plant from all of their customers, not just the ones whose increased demand made the new plant necessary. IOW if my neighbours install electrically heated saunas, my electric bill will go up, so having them pay part of the cost of my new fridge seems like rough justice.

    Just to be clear, I do agree that the cost of decommissioning old plant may be spread over all subscribers, since we can all be presumed to have used its output.

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