Bipartisan Bill to Boost Economy, Create Jobs

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan energy bill aimed at boosting the economy and creating jobs was introduced to the Senate earlier in February, and is currently undergoing review the by Subcomittee on Energy and Environment.

H.R. 4017, known as the Smart Energy act, was introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee members Reps. Charles Bass (R-N.H.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah), and is also commonly referred to as the Bass-Matheson bill.

The bill seeks to reduce the nation’s energy use, while helping to create private sector jobs and improve economic competitiveness. If passed, the Smart Energy Act of 2012 aims to reduce barriers for government, businesses and consumers seeking to adopt off-the-shelf, cost-saving energy efficiency technologies.

H.R. 4017 complements the existing Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 1000) introduced by Sens. Jeane Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

The Act, which was approved on a bipartisan 18-3 vote last summer by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, served as a model for the current Bass-Matheson bill.

The goal will be accomplished by expanding the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program to boost private sector investments in building efficiency upgrades, expanding the use of Energy Savings Performance contracts by federal agencies and requiring the federal government — the country’s single largest energy user — to adopt energy-saving techniques for computers and to implement better building standards and smart metering technology.

The act will also establish collaborative research partnerships within the Department of Energy to promote research and commercialization of innovative manufacturing processes, helping manufacturers reduce energy use and become more competitive.

“Introduction of the Bass-Matheson bill moves our nation significantly closer to enactment of important energy efficiency legislation this year,” said Kateri Callahn, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. “With similar legislation, in the form of the bipartisan Shaheen-Portman bill (S. 1000) ready to go to the Senate floor, we could have the basis very soon for a fruitful conversation about increasing our nation’s energy efficiency.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that without energy efficiency improvements like more effieicnt appliances and equipment, better building construction, industrial process and industrial process improvements, among other measures implemented since 1973, the U.S. would be using 50 percent more energy to power the economy.

Even with those efficiency gains, U.S. energy requirements are still projected to increase about 20 percent by 2035, according to the Administration.

“While today’s economic and political challenges make it increasingly difficult to advance national energy policies, bills like the Bass-Matheson legislation, which stop energy waste, can bridge the partisan divide to create jobs, save businesses and consumers money and increase the productivity of our economy,” Callahan said.

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