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Alliance Urges Bill with Higher CAFE, Tax Incentives, Appliance Standards

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RISMEDIA, Dec. 7, 2007-This week, the Alliance to Save Energy urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives to adopt an energy package that will save American consumers money while also improving our environment and increasing our nation’s energy security.

H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act, emphasizes energy efficiency by raising vehicle fuel economy standards and encouraging consumers to purchase plug-in hybrid vehicles; extending valuable federal income tax incentives for energy-efficient home improvements and commercial buildings; phasing out inefficient lighting products and improving the efficiency of other home appliances; and encouraging development of zero-emission commercial buildings.

“Enactment of H.R. 6 would not only represents the most significant energy-saving legislation this country has enjoyed in the last three decades, but it also will serve as a very effective environmental policy tool for tackling the urgent problem of global climate change, as the bill is projected to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions significantly,” said Alliance President Kateri Callahan.

“This bill is a win-win for consumers who are struggling under the burden of spiraling energy costs and growing increasingly aware and alarmed at the impact that our wasteful use of energy is having on our climate and our environment.”

Callahan also called upon both the House and the Senate to work together to ensure that a meaningful energy bill can be sent to the president for signature before adjournment of the first session of the 110th Congress.

“While passage of good legislation by one chamber of Congress is laudable, the American people only benefit if such policy becomes law,” Callahan stated. “Poll after poll shows that Americans want relief from high energy costs and want swift, effective action by their government on climate. Now is the time for the House and Senate to come together on comprehensive energy policy that delivers both – energy savings and reduction of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.”

H.R. 6 would increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards from the current average of about 25 miles per gallon for passenger cars, light trucks, and SUVs to 35 mpg by 2020. This would save American families up to $1,000 a year in gasoline costs, for a total of $22 billion in net consumer savings in 2020. It also would reduce U.S. oil consumption by 1.1 million barrels per day in 2020 – half of what we currently import from the Persian Gulf – and cut GHG equivalent to taking 28 million of today’s cars and trucks off the road.

The bill also provides an income tax credit for purchase of so-call “plug-in” hybrid electric vehicles that can be refueled by electricity and/or liquid fuels. Callahan noted that innovative technologies like plug-in hybrids must become options for consumers to ensure a sustainable energy future, and that the federal government has an important role in helping such technologies gain a “foothold” in the marketplace through tax and other incentives.

The bill also would extend for one year the current federal income tax credits for homeowners who make specific energy-efficient home improvements. Details in English and Spanish on those tax credits, which will otherwise expire on December 31, are at www.ase.org/taxcredits.

In addition to the CAFE increase and the existing home and plug-in hybrid tax credits, the Alliance worked to have the following energy-efficiency provisions included in the House bill and urges their adoption:

- Lighting standards that would result in the phase-out of today’s 40-, 60-, 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs from January 2012 to January 2014 and their replacement by more efficient standard and halogen incandescents, compact fluorescents, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that produce the equivalent amount of light.
- A Commercial Building Initiative (CBI) authorizing research, development, and deployment of new commercial buildings that would use energy efficiency and clean energy sources to produce zero GHG. If fully funded, this could result in savings of 5 quadrillion but in 2020, about 5% of all energy use and 25% of commercial building energy use. The Alliance emphasized that full funding of the CBI by separate appropriations legislation is essential.
- Increased energy efficiency in federal buildings; new efficiency standards for appliances including dishwashers, clothes washers, refrigerators, and freezers; and permanent authorization of Energy Savings Performance Contracts, an innovative financing tool for upgrading the energy efficiency of federal buildings.
- A five-year extension of tax incentives for increased energy efficiency in commercial buildings; three years of incentives for manufacturers of certain energy-efficient appliances; and a new 10% tax credit for combined heat and power.

“The House and Senate have brought us to a point where we could, as a nation, see the most sweeping energy efficiency – and therefore climate – legislation of the past three decades become law,” Callahan said. She added, “The Alliance is hopeful that the Congress will fulfill this promise and deliver an energy-efficiency ‘Christmas present’ to the president and the American people that will yield energy, money, and greenhouse gas savings for decades to come.”

For more information, visit www.ase.org.

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