Unanimous Consent Request—H.R. 2126by Senator Lisa Murkowski
Posted on 2014-12-15
MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I too want to join in the unanimous
consent that has been raised by my colleagues Senator Portman and
Senator Shaheen on this very important bill. I have to say it feels a
little bit like instead of calling it the energy efficiency bill, we
need to call it the groundhog day bill because it just keeps coming
back. It is a measure that, as my colleagues have mentioned, is so
commonsense. When we think about ways that we can do more to be
responsible stewards of our energy resources and do more to reduce our
costs, energy efficiency is just calling to us all.
What we have in front of us today is not the full-on energy efficiency bill that Senators Shaheen and Portman have been working so diligently on for so many years now, but it is a slimmed-down version coming across from the House, a House-drafted, Republican-sponsored, cost neutral bill that passed that Chamber on suspension back in March, as was noted, by an overwhelming margin of 375 to 36. There are four major provisions in the bill, but none of these provisions are controversial. Probably the most important to us right now is the time- sensitive provision that provides regulatory relief for our rural electric co-ops. Under a consent decree from 2010, water heater manufacturers have until just mid-April--April 16--of this next year to meet revised minimum efficiency standards from the Department of Energy.
So you have got a situation where, in anticipation of this deadline, companies that make certain types of water heaters are already stopping their production. As a result, you are going to have co-ops that will effectively no longer have the ability to purchase them and use them in their systems. So they are coming to us and saying, ``Help.'' We need to have some certainty here and now.
What we do in this measure--what the House does is simply exempt rural co-ops and creates a different, achievable standard for them. It is a compromise that has been forged by the co-ops, the industry, the Department of Energy. Senator Hoeven has been leading on this and has been great. This is something that needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed now rather than later.
The remaining provisions within this measure are all voluntary efficiency programs. One focuses on the efficiency of commercial office buildings, another provides greater information about energy usage in the buildings, and then the third looks at energy-efficient government technology and practices.
Again, none of these are controversial. None of them impose mandates, penalties, or taxes. CBO has deemed them to cost nothing. So there is only benefit. There is only an upside. So, again, we have seen the full-on energy efficiency measure before us now two separate times on this floor. We have reported that bill from the energy committee on a strong bipartisan basis.
We really should be moving to do right when it comes to energy efficiency. Senators Shaheen and Portman have led that effort. The House has now acted. It is unfortunate that we will not be able to resolve this. But I am certainly committed to working with my colleagues in the new year to advance what, again, is just simple common sense.
I yield the floor.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from North Dakota.