Muckraker: Grist on Politics

A coalition of environment, labor, and business groups is petitioning Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to increase funding for energy efficiency in the Senate economic stimulus package, at least to the level in the already-passed House version of the bill.

The Energy Future Coalition is promoting a “Rebuilding America” plan that would retrofit 50 million buildings by 2020, cutting the buildings’ energy use by 30 percent. The group argues that an allocation of $20 billion in the economic recovery package would retrofit 4 million buildings in the next two years.

Overall, the renewable-energy and energy-efficiency investments in the proposed version of the Senate bill total $14.4 billion, compared to $18.5 billion in the House bill. Investments in building and appliance efficiency specifically did much better in the House version, where they got $5 billion more than in the current Senate plan. The coalition has put together a handy comparison chart [PDF] with specifics.

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Tim Wirth, a member of the Energy Future Coalition’s steering committee and the president of the United Nations Foundation (as well as a former U.S. senator representing Colorado), sent a letter [PDF] to Reid on Monday asking him to encourage his Senate colleagues to increase efficiency funding. “We fear that this slow start for energy efficiency misses an historic opportunity to set the nation on a new course of ‘Rebuilding America,'” wrote Wirth.

The coalition includes 23 labor unions, businesses, environmental groups, and think tanks:

AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department
Allianz of America
Associated Builders & Contractors
Associated General Contractors of America
Center for American Progress
Con Edison
Consumer Federation of America
Copper Development Association
Council on Competitiveness
Digital Energy Solutions Campaign
Edison Electric Institute
Energy Future Coalition
Jones Lang LaSalle
National Wildlife Federation
Natural Resources Defense Council
PG&E Corp. (Pacific Gas & Electric)
Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association
The Real Estate Roundtable
Sacramento Municipal Utility District
United States Green Building Council

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