Organizations Speak out on Proposed Senate Climate Bill
May 13, 2010

A number of associations and organizations involved with both construction and manufacturing have spoken out against the Kerry-Lieberman “American Power Act.” The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), for example, issued a statement saying that by establishing new regulatory Obstacles and robbing transportation funds, the bill will make it more difficult to cut pollution and emissions from the built environment. Likewise, the American Materials Manufacturing Alliance (AMMA), a group of energy-intensive, trade-exposed industries (EITEs) that includes The Aluminum Association, the American Chemistry Council, the American Forest & Paper Association, the American Iron and Steel Institute, The Fertilizer Institute and Portland Cement Association, also issued a statement saying that while they “appreciate the efforts the bill’s authors have made to solicit the views of our organizations and our member companies ... We believe that compared with past bills, the legislation released today invests more in U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. However, in several key areas, more must be done to ensure the global competitiveness of EITEs and the retention of American jobs.”

In the AGC statement, Stephen E. Sandherr, the group’s chief executive officer, said, “Improving the efficiency of our built environment … presents one of the greatest opportunities to reduce power consumption and cut greenhouse gas emissions. After all, the nation’s building inventory accounts for 35 percent of the nation’s manmade greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 40 percent of the nation’s energy, while our aging and inefficient transportation network accounts for another 27 percent of energy consumption and 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Despite this tremendous opportunity, Senators Kerry and Lieberman have proposed legislation that makes it harder to construct new, more energy efficient buildings and factories, improve aging infrastructure and eliminate the traffic congestion that wastes fuel and pollutes our environment. By allowing the EPA a virtually free hand to approve or deny construction and rehabilitation projects, the bill creates regulatory obstacles that will raise construction costs, delay projects and stifle demand. Worse, by taking funds raised through the proposal’s new transportation fees and committing all but a small percentage to unrelated spending, the legislation leaves our aging and inefficient roads, airways and transit systems vastly underfunded.”

Sandherr says “the inevitable consequences of this bill are higher taxes, fewer jobs, and continued reliance on wasteful buildings, inefficient infrastructure and leaky water systems,” and encourages Congress and the Administration to focus on the measures the AGC has identified in its “Building a Green Future” plan (CLICK HERE to read the plan).

“Our green construction plan identifies steps public officials, developers, and the construction community must take to lessen the impact of our built environment. Measures in the plan include doubling existing energy efficiency tax credits for commercial buildings; passing the Building Star program that invests $6 billion in improving the efficiency of commercial buildings; and speeding reviews and boosting tax credits for green building projects. The plan also calls for public building projects to incorporate state-of-the-art environmental solutions and for the federal government to make pragmatic investments in research and technology … What the Senators appear to have forgotten is you can’t simply regulate a greener future, you have to build it.”

And from a manufacturing perspective, the AMMA says that while the new legislation includes funding for energy efficiency and for clean energy sources and technologies, the funding must be boosted significantly to meet the objective of keeping U.S. manufacturing competitive.

“The bill also does not address increased energy costs: cost containment is key to preventing the transfer of U.S. manufacturing production and jobs to more carbon-intensive developing nations, known as ‘carbon leakage.’ Carbon leakage results in higher net global greenhouse gas emissions. The bill does not create a single national program for regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs). Instead of fully pre-empting EPA regulation of GHGs under the Clean Air Act, the bill preempts regulation only under specific sections, and only for ‘covered’ stationary sources. Moreover, EPA retains its authority to develop New Source Performance Standards for non-covered sources and to regulate GHGs under other federal statutes (e.g. Clean Water Act). In addition, the Department of Interior retains its authority to regulate GHGs under the Endangered Species Act. The bill falls short of the uniformity needed to prevent uncertainty and delay in investments that could help drive economic recovery, add U.S. jobs and expand energy efficiency and clean energy technology.”

AMMA adds, “The U.S. industrial sector is the only sector of the U.S. economy whose GHG emissions are falling, and we supply many of the materials the nation uses for energy efficiency and renewable energy. We will continue to work constructively with Senators as climate legislation is discussed, and ask that policymakers develop policies that maintain the global competitiveness of the U.S. manufacturing sector.”

CLICK HERE to read the full statement from AGC.

CLICK HERE to read the full statement from AMMA.

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