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Bipartisan legislation that could save economy billions now heads to Senate floor

(Washington, D.C.) — In just two months, the energy efficiency and job creation strategy proposed by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources with strong bipartisan support. The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011 (S.1000), which was the subject of a June 9th hearing in front of the committee, passed 18-3 with support from both parties, including Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). 

The legislation is an affordable and effective way to encourage economic growth and create jobs.  Introduced in early May, it contains a broad package of low-cost tools that would reduce barriers for businesses, homeowners and consumers looking to adopt off-the-shelf energy efficiency technologies that will save them money. With a host of mature technologies already in widespread use — such as better insulation, computer-controlled thermostats, and more efficient electric motors — energy efficiency is the cheapest and fastest approach available to improving our nation’s energy infrastructure and our economy’s energy independence.

“With rising energy costs and too many Americans still looking for jobs, our country can’t afford to wait to pass a comprehensive energy efficiency strategy. This bipartisan plan will make our economy more competitive and create private sector jobs today, while also addressing our nation’s energy challenges,” Shaheen said. “I am confident the tremendous momentum we have already seen will continue and I look forward to the support of my colleagues in the Senate.”

“With the gridlock and partisanship in Washington, it is reassuring to see our legislation move so quickly to the entire Senate, and on a bipartisan basis,” Portman said. “I’m hopeful we can bring this up on the Senate floor quickly, allowing American companies to use the savings to expand operations, hire new workers, and become more competitive globally.”

U.S. commercial and residential buildings combined consume 40 percent of all energy used, while the U.S. industrial sector consumes more energy than any other sector of our economy. The federal government is the largest single energy consumer in the country.  The Shaheen-Portman bill targets efficiencies in all three areas at relatively low cost. The legislation embraces a bipartisan approach that includes many widely supported measures to enable private investment. 

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011, which has already been endorsed by a coalition of more than 100 businesses, trade associations, and advocacy groups, was recently praised by the Bipartisan Policy Center, who commended Shaheen and Portman for  “identifying obstacles to the deployment of energy efficiency measures and for developing a number of practical solutions.”