New bill would expand energy efficiency measures across the country

Weatherizing your home can help reduce energy waste. A bill in the US Senate would expand energy efficiency programs across the nation to ensure we are wasting less energy in our homes and businesses. Everyone doing their part means that we are saving energy, and saving energy saves lands.

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Last week saw introduction of a bipartisan bill hoping to improve this nation’s energy efficiency.

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 761), reintroduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), is virtually identical to a bill that passed out of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the Senate and nearly found its way to a floor vote last session with broad bipartisan support. The bill has Wilderness Society support because saving energy saves lands.

The Shaheen-Portman legislation will implement energy efficiency improvements for residential, commercial and industrial practices. It has the support from businesses, manufacturers and trade organizations, as well as broad support across the environmental community.

Energy efficiency is under appreciated for its impact on our public lands. Each new acre spent on energy production is an acre that is no longer available for hunting, fishing or other recreation. In fact, a single coal-fired power plant can consume roughly 23,000 acres of land for the physical plant and the mining and waste disposal from the actual resources used. Not using that land for our nation’s energy needs means using it for other important activities. That is a huge win for wildlife and conservation.

We need new renewable energy infrastructure to tap the nation’s rich wind and solar resources, including on public lands, but we also must do more with the power we already produce. By reducing waste, energy efficiency helps constrain costly energy sprawl, which puts our natural heritage at risk. This legislation will do much to ease this issue, and is an important complement to the “Smart from the Start” approach we’ve been advocating the Department of the Interior adopt for deploying renewable energy on public lands. Making sure that we build only what we need and that energy development, whether renewable or fossil fuel driven, is kept to areas of low impact is essential to making sure that our public lands are not threatened by our energy needs.

A letter from The Wilderness Society and many other conservation and energy organizations thanks Sens. Shaheen and Portman for their leadership and asking other Senators to support this common sense bill.