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Senate Climate Bill Strongly Supports Energy Block Grant
Provides $136 Billion through 2050

By Debra DeHaney-Howard
June 2, 2008

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to begin debate June 2 on “cap and trade” climate protection legislation, a measure that sets forth an unprecedented federal framework for reducing U. S. greenhouse gas emissions by more than 60 percent by 2050 through various policy changes and investments. The legislation includes a substantial funding commitment to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program. Enactment and funding of the EECBG program has been the Conference’s top legislative priority for the 110th Congress, as first set forth last year by Conference President Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer in the Mayors 10-Point Plan.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (CA), who led months of deliberations among Senators on the measure, recently unveiled her legislative package in advance of Senate action. In response to calls from the Conference and the nation’s mayors for a strong federal commitment to the EECBG program, Boxer included substantial and long-term program funding in her climate plan, providing $136 billion in EECBG funding through 2050.

Chairman Boxer’s substitute legislation modifies the earlier Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2007 (S. 2191) that her Committee adopted in December. Provisions to fund the EECBG program on a longer term and predictable basis were among the key changes in her revised legislation (S. 3036).

Palmer applauded Boxer for recognizing the importance of mayors and local climate initiatives to a successful federal climate policy. “The nation’s mayors are putting forth their full support behind this legislation. We commend Chairman Barbara Boxer for her leadership and commitment to this issue. We urge the Senate to pass this crucial piece of legislation that will put us on a path to confront America’s climate protection challenges,” Palmer said.

The pending cap and trade legislation, when enacted, would provide additional federal resources to the EECBG program beginning in 2012, at the earliest. To ensure prompt funding to support cities and counties immediately, the Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities and National Association of Counties, among others, have made funding for the EECBG a priority in the current appropriations cycle, calling upon Congress to provide funds in the upcoming fiscal year (FY’09), beginning October 1. Recent energy price jumps have especially bolstered calls by the nation’s mayors and others to fund the block grant program to significantly increase federal support for local energy efficiency and renewable energy development programs.

“This is a critical time for our nation as we continue to seek solutions for our growing energy crisis and to confront fully the growing global climate change challenge. This block grant initiative will not only help transform America’s cities, but is a critical part of any successful national effort to reduce energy use and carbon emissions,” said Conference Executive Director and CEO Tom Cochran.”

In addition to substantial new funding commitments to support existing energy assistance programs, such as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program, the pending Senate bill also provides $800 billion in tax relief through 2050 to assist consumers with future energy costs. Among other commitments through this period, the legislation provides $171 billion for public transportation investment, $190 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training and Climate Change Worker Assistance programs, $51 billion for the construction of new energy efficient buildings and the retrofit of existing buildings as well as $68 billion to help auto manufacturers retool facilities with advanced vehicle technology (e.g., hybrids, plug-ins fuel cell vehicles, advanced light duty diesel, and electric cars).