Two weeks ago, the Senate Appropriations Committee decided not to fund the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) for FY 2009. Here is a new opportunity to convince the Committee to fund the Energy Block Grant for FY 2008! Last Friday, Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Bernard Sanders (I-VT) took the lead in responding to the call from those cities who seek money to further develop and start energy conservation programs. These Senators are asking their Senate colleagues to join them on a letter (see below) to the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urging them to include $2 billion for the EECBG program in the FY 2008 Supplemental Appropriations bill.
The Senate has postponed the markup of the supplemental appropriations bill until Thursday, July 24, so those of you who have not yet called our senators still have time. If you have not already done so, please call our senators and urge them to sign onto the “Dear Colleague” letter. The deadline for co-signatures is Wednesday at 11pm.
To contact your Senators, please call the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or
SENATOR KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4304
Senator John Cornyn AKA (Big John)
517 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Colleague letter
The Honorable Robert C. Byrd The Honorable Thad Cochran
Chairman Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Chairman Byrd and Ranking Member Cochran:
As you well know, our nation faces many challenges. Our constituents have told us that one of the most acute challenges they face – the one that causes much anxiety and concern – is that of the struggling economy.
We applaud your announcement that the Committee will soon be holding a markup of an emergency supplemental appropriations bill focused on addressing the struggling economy and investing in domestic priorities. As you begin the important work of drafting such a bill, we ask that you make funding of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs a priority. Specifically, we request that the Committee provide the fully-authorized funding levels for the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, the Department of Labor’s Green Jobs Workforce Training, and that you provide the highest level of funding possible for the Department of Energy’s Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program.
1) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (Energy). This program, modeled after the successful Community Development Block Grants, would provide support to cities, counties, states and tribes for on-the-ground efforts to achieve greater energy efficiency, increase the use of renewables, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. To accomplish these goals the fully-authorized funding level of $2 billion should be provided. Our cities drive our national economy, accounting for more than 75 percent of economic output. This makes cities the cheapest, easiest places to save energy. Funding this program will help get locally driven projects off the ground, saving both money and energy, with the added benefit of immediately putting people to work.
2) Green Jobs Workforce Training Program (Labor). A major national investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency could create millions of jobs over the next ten years. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory the lack of skilled workers is the largest non-technical barrier to the advancement of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. The fully-authorized funding level of $125 million should be provided to jump start the program, which will give people the necessary skills to put them to work helping redefine our energy economy. Training America’s workforce in energy efficiency and renewable energy is a winning strategy. Our economy will benefit by the investment in high-growth and demand fields. Our manufacturing sector will benefit from keeping these jobs in the United States. And finally, families, from all socio-economic backgrounds, will benefit from good-paying, high-skilled jobs and reduced energy bills.
3) Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program (Energy). In addition to those two important programs, we ask for your strong support of the Weatherization Assistance Program, which has an exceptional track record of helping low income Americans decrease their energy bills by increasing the efficiency of their homes. Last winter, heating fuel prices skyrocketed, forcing many families to choose between heat and food. Next winter will be even worse. The weatherization program can help mitigate this looming disaster. Thus, while we would prefer the fully-authorized level, we acknowledge that the Committee faces funding challenges in the current budget crisis and therefore we ask that you provide the highest level possible for the Weatherization Assistance Program in the supplemental funding bill.
Thank you again for your leadership and for recognizing the dire need to draft an Emergency Supplemental bill focused on domestic priorities. We understand that you will be faced with the daunting task of considering which programs should be included in this critical bill. We strongly believe, however, that funding the block grants, green job training, and weatherization programs can help alleviate some of our economic problems by putting people to work and by transitioning the country to a brighter, greener energy future. In fact, few other programs can provide such immediate and impactful benefits ─ benefits such as alleviating some of our short and long term energy challenges, providing millions of job opportunities, supporting domestic manufacturing of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
We are committed to working with you to address the strains being felt by families across our nation and strongly believe that funding these important programs is an integral part of the solution.
Bernard Sanders – Susan M. Collins – Hillary Rodham Clinton – Robert Menendez
cc: The Honorable Harry Reid, Majority Leader
The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader
Members of the Senate Committee on Appropriations
By CHRIS JONES
City Council, Place 4