September 16, 2013

Dear Senator:

Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, urges you to support the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 1392), which enjoys broad bipartisan and public support, and to oppose amendments that undermine the progress of the bill and would cause harm to consumers and the environment.

S. 1392 will help accelerate the adoption of building energy codes for residential and commercial buildings, improve the energy efficiency of the industrial sector and federal government, provide job training and technical assistance related to efficient buildings, and authorize the Department of Energy to establish a Supply Star program to support efficiency improvements in product supply chains  These are common sense measures that the non-profit, non-partisan American Council for an Energy-Efficient Environment (ACEEE) estimates will create 164,000 jobs, save $13.7 billion in energy costs, and avoid 80.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2030.

Many amendments have been offered to strengthen the bill such as:

  • reducing energy use from standby power,
  • increasing funding for low-income weatherization,
  • expanding water efficiency programs, and
  • helping schools, non-profits, and communities save energy.   

However, many amendments under consideration would harm public health and slash consumer benefits of energy efficiency, such as:

  • blocking “Tier 3” clean car standards,
  • undermining fuel economy standards,
  • moving backwards on efficiency standards for appliances, lighting, and electronics and water conservation standards for plumbing fixtures,
  • reducing independent testing requirements for Energy Star certification, and
  • undercutting the Clean Air Act.

These harmful amendments would increase air pollution and reduce the trillions of dollars consumers can expect to save on their gasoline and power bills from important efficiency standards and programs.

In addition, several amendments have been offered as an attempt to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  For example, one amendment would block employer subsidies for members of Congress and congressional staff receiving health care through health care marketplaces.  Another would delay implementation of the individual responsibility provision in the ACA.  This provision is needed to make sure that insurance pools have enough healthy individuals to keep insurance premiums down.  The Affordable Care Act is already providing benefits for consumers, and when it is completely implemented, millions of individuals will have access to affordable coverage for the first time.  Attempts to block implementation of this important law will ultimately harm consumers.

Consumers deserve to have efficient products and homes that don’t hurt their financial health through higher energy bills.  Improving energy efficiency and diversifying our energy supply are the best ways to help consumers keep their energy costs under control.   Please work to improve our economic and environmental health by keeping the march to improve energy efficiency on track.  Thank you for considering our views.

Sincerely,

Shannon Baker-Branstetter
Policy Counsel, Consumers Union