The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has approved bipartisan energy efficiency legislation that was introduced in February by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. The measure, S. 385, was one of 65 bills that were given a green light by the energy committee at its March 30 business meeting.
For the last six years, Portman and Shaheen have been trying to get Congress to pass their efficiency bill, which has attracted broad bipartisan support from consumer-owned utilities and others.
The bill, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, would carry out energy efficiency policy reforms "that will strengthen the economy and reduce pollution without any new taxes or mandates," Portman said in a March 30 news release.
Components of the bill were signed into law by President Obama in April 2015 "and are already helping individuals and companies use less energy, creating jobs and reducing emissions," the Ohio senator said.
The legislation includes provisions calling for greater energy efficiency in building codes, worker training, coordination of retrofitting assistance for schools, and an energy performance requirement for federal buildings.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimated in a 2014 study that, by the year 2030, the bill would create more than 190,000 jobs, save consumers $16.2 billion a year, and cut CO2 emissions and other air pollutants by the equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road.
The bill has appeared poised to clear Congress a couple of times in the last three years. In early 2014, the measure passed the House with a broad bipartisan vote of 375-36, but then stalled in the Senate. Last year, it passed the Senate by a vote of 85-12, but died in the House.
Among those who have endorsed it are the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Chemistry Council and the Alliance to Save Energy.
"This is exactly the kind of legislation Americans want Congress to pass — bipartisan, common-sense policy that saves taxpayers money and drives economic activity and job creation," said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, after the bill was introduced on Feb. 15, 2017.