Shaheen Leads Bipartisan Letter to President Biden Urging Funding for Energy Efficiency Programs to Combat Climate Change & Create Jobs

March 17, 2021

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) led a bipartisan letter to President Biden urging him to prioritize robust investments in programs that promote energy efficiency in his upcoming budget proposal to Congress. In the letter, Shaheen and the Senators noted these investments would combat climate change by reducing harmful emissions and pollution and stimulate our economy by creating sustainable jobs and reducing energy costs for consumers.

Since the pandemic has slowed progress in energy efficiency and led to job losses disproportionately harming workers of color, the Senators expressed urgency in delivering funding to unleash the full potential of the energy efficiency.

“We applaud your commitment to restoring our nation’s global leadership on climate change while creating jobs here at home. To further these goals, we respectfully request you provide robust funding for programs that promote energy efficiency throughout our economy as your administration crafts its budget recommendation to Congress for fiscal year 2022,” wrote the Senators. “Increasing investment in energy efficiency programs within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) can deliver significant emissions reductions, grow jobs in the clean energy sector and provide savings to American consumers.”

They continued: “Unfortunately, the pandemic and associated economic impacts have hit the energy efficiency sector especially hard, slowing progress and costing jobs, particularly for workers of color. According to recent analysis, more than 300,000 American jobs in energy efficiency have been lost since the beginning of the pandemic, representing a 12.8% reduction from pre-pandemic levels. Though jobs have been slowly returning, we need to invest in programs and implement policies—as we did in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—to truly unleash the job-creating potential of this sector.”

The bipartisan letter was also signed by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-CT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Kelly (D-ZA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Senator Shaheen is a leader in the Senate for safeguarding our environment, combating the effects of climate change and investing in energy efficiency policies. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Shaheen traveled to Paris to participate in high-level discussions at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference that led to the international Paris Climate Accord. Shaheen also introduced the widely praised Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC) with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), which contains key energy efficiency policy reforms that will strengthen the economy and reduce pollution. Policy experts at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that over the lifetime of the legislation through 2050, the bipartisan bill will save consumers more than $41 billion on their energy bills, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.18 billion metric tons, which is the equivalent of taking 3.1 million cars off the road each year for 30 years, and add more than 100,000 jobs to the economy. Shaheen is a founding member of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, which brings together an equal number of Republicans and Democrats to craft and advance bipartisan solutions to address climate change.

Read the Senators’ full letter here or below:

Dear President Biden:

We applaud your commitment to restoring our nation’s global leadership on climate change while creating jobs here at home. To further these goals, we respectfully request you provide robust funding for programs that promote energy efficiency throughout our economy as your administration crafts its budget recommendation to Congress for fiscal year 2022.

Increasing investment in energy efficiency programs within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) can deliver significant emissions reductions, grow jobs in the clean energy sector and provide savings to American consumers. Specifically, the Buildings Technologies Office and the recently reauthorized Federal Energy Management Program develop and deploy cost-effective technologies and tools to improve energy efficiency performance of residential, commercial and federal buildings and their interactivity with the electric grid. The Advanced Manufacturing Office accelerates research, development and deployment of advanced technologies that make U.S. companies competitive in international markets. Moreover, the Weatherization Assistance Program and State Energy Program empower our states and community organizations to help put people to work improving the efficiency of homes, businesses, manufacturing plants, institutional buildings and other facilities that are critical to community development and resilience. Investing in these programs will also help address equity issues by reducing pollution that disproportionately impacts minority communities, lowering the higher energy burdens faced by low-income households and creating more comfortable and habitable shelters as the severity and pace of climate disasters continue to increase across the country.

The environmental and economic benefits of energy efficiency are clear. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), energy efficiency globally has the potential to achieve more than 40% of the energy-related emissions reduction needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. In the United States, energy efficiency employment grew by 20%, nearly three times the rate of growth in the overall economy, in the five years leading up to 2020, and energy efficiency jobs are available in nearly every county in every state. Unfortunately, the pandemic and associated economic impacts have hit the energy efficiency sector especially hard, slowing progress and costing jobs, particularly for workers of color. According to recent analysis, more than 300,000 American jobs in energy efficiency have been lost since the beginning of the pandemic, representing a 12.8% reduction from pre-pandemic levels. Though jobs have been slowly returning, we need to invest in programs and implement policies—as we did in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—to truly unleash the job-creating potential of this sector. To help us understand these trends and the potential for growth, we also encourage your administration to recommit to collecting data and publishing an annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report and properly funding the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Finally, while DOE is clearly a leading agency in the federal government’s efforts to improve energy efficiency, we encourage your administration to prioritize energy efficiency across the administration and throughout sectors of our economy. We have a tremendous opportunity ahead to encourage work on energy efficiency through the General Services Administration, Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development programs, Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program, and more. 

We look forward to working with you to unlock the unrealized potential of energy efficiency. Thank you for your consideration.

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