Key House Committee Bill Authorizes $3.5 Billion Annually Over 5 Years to Aid City, Local Area Climate Efforts

Washington, D.C.Today, the full House Committee on Energy and Commerce approved HR 2088, an important first step in the legislative process to renew and refund the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, a top legislative priority of The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). As approved, this legislation would commit $3.5 billion annually – $17.5 billion over five years – in formula-based grants, allocated directly to cities, counties, tribal governments and states.

The legislation, as existing law provides, continues to extend flexibility to local and state governments to invest these new resources across 14 categories of eligible projects and programs, including the development of comprehensive energy conservation and efficiency plans; conversion of street lighting to highly efficient LED lighting; installation of renewable energy technology (e.g., solar, wind, fuel cell and biomass energy) on municipal and other qualifying buildings; and weatherization of government buildings.

“For many cities, the energy block grant program is critical in helping accelerate local actions to reduce energy use and climate emissions,” said Bryan Barnett, Mayor of Rochester Hills (MI) and USCM President.  “We thank House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (NJ) for his leadership, Representatives Greg Stanton (AZ) and Marc Veasey (TX) for sponsoring the legislation, and other Members for their efforts to renew this key program.”

During the Committee’s deliberations, Chairman Pallone cited the need for continued local action to start ramping up even more as the Administration ignores the need to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation. Pallone stated that local initiatives are the best bet for moving forward on energy infrastructure investment.

Before approving the legislation on a voice vote, Chairman Pallone expressed his appreciation to the Conference of Mayors for its support of the legislation, the bill’s sponsors — former Phoenix Mayor and now Representative Greg Stanton (AZ) and Representative Marc Veasey (TX) – and he especially praised the efforts of Piscataway Mayor Brian Wahler for bringing the support of New Jersey mayors behind the legislation.

Under the bill, the Department of Energy retains responsibility for implementing the program, as it did in the 2009-2010 period when the first round of EECBG funding was appropriated and provided to local and state governments. The EECBG Program, which was authorized in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 enacted by President George W. Bush, was first funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).