Statements and Speeches

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, spoke on the Senate Floor in support of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.761). His remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:

Mr. President, I ask to be recognized. Today, I rise in support of Senators Shaheen and Portman’s Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act.

As our economy picks up and our nation’s energy needs grow, investing in energy efficiency is a no-brainer.  Energy efficiency investments save money in energy costs, save energy resources, protect our environment and create jobs. 

Home owners and businesses are already investing in energy efficiency technologies.  As an extra bonus, many of these technologies are developed right here in America.

Earlier this month, I visited a company in Delaware called WhiteOptics. 

They are producing advanced light bulb technology, that when used, can deliver more light than traditional florescent bulbs for half the energy.  The payback for the technology is less than a year. 

Since the cost of lighting can comprise up to 50 percent of a manufacturer’s energy bill, this is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to save a lot of energy and, also,  a lot of money.  

Through investments in advanced light bulbs and other energy efficiency measures, our country has the potential to save as much as 40 giga-watts of power by 2018.  How much is 40 giga-watts? Well, that’s roughly the amount of energy that 80 coal plants create today.

Unfortunately, barriers such as upfront costs and inadequate efficiency standards, are preventing our country from realizing its energy efficiency potential. 

Shaheen-Portman bill breaks down many of these barriers.  Voting for it really is a no-brainer. 

As an added bonus, the legislation before us today will help us rein in federal spending, too, because it includes provisions that will reduce Uncle Sam’s energy consumption across the country and around the world.

To illustrate that point, let me use an example from the world of sports.  Like a lot of Americans, I spent some time the past two weekends watching a couple of terrific football games.  But on Labor Day, I took the 12-year-old boy I mentor – and his twin sister – to see the final game of the season of the Wilmington Blue Rocks, my state’s only minor league baseball team. 

It turned out to be a really good game.  One of the highlights occurred early on when the Blue Rocks came close to pulling off a triple play, something we rarely see in baseball.   

While our Blue Rocks came close to doing it that day, our federal government can actually pull one off – at least figuratively speaking – by reducing the amount of energy it consumes every year. 

First, we cut down the carbon and air pollution that’s going into the air and, thus,
improve American’s health.  

Second, we cut down on federal spending, making it easier to balance our budget. 

And third, we cut down on unemployment by creating good American jobs to produce, install and maintain the needed energy efficiency technology, most of which is made in America. 

We’re not talking minor league here either.  This is big league stuff. 

The annual energy bill for the federal government is around $25 billion. Of that, over $7 billion alone is spent on energy to operate federal buildings.

Last Congress, my colleagues, Chris Coons and Sheldon Whitehouse,  and I tried to pull off a triple play of our own by introducing a bill we called the Reducing Federal Energy Dollars Act which focused like a laser on bringing down federal energy costs. 

Today, I’m happy to see that many of its provisions have been incorporated into the
Shaheen-Portman bill.  If we pass it, we just might pull off a “Triple Play” after all.

One of those provisions takes what works and seeks to ensure that we do more of it. For example, not long ago, the Veterans Affairs Department mandated that employees turn off their computers at the end of each work day. 

The agency also began acquiring more energy efficient computers and software.   Combined, the Department plans to save around $32 million over the next 5 years.  $32 million!  Not too shabby.  

The bill before us today calls on all agencies to adopt these energy and cost-saving techniques.

Another provision included in Shaheen-Portman adopted from our earlier legislation, ensures that we build federal buildings with some of the most energy efficient
technology that’s available. 

These are buildings that will be with us for decades and even longer.  We owe it to American taxpayer to make sure we build them to last and to be energy efficient.  

Overall, the Shaheen-Portman bill makes major strides in promoting federal energy efficiency, and I applaud its authors for their leadership.

There is, however, a small provision that was overlooked, one that – if added -- could make possible even greater gains.

Under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress overlooked geothermal as a renewable for the purposes of federal energy requirements. 

Renewable thermal energy is clean.  It’s efficient AND, it’s often more cost-effective
than electric energy. 

That’s why I have joined Senator Inhofe in offering amendment No. 1851, which allows geothermal to be considered a renewable energy for federal requirements.   Our
amendment gives federal agencies another valuable option as they consider the most cost-effective way to meet their energy needs and obligations. 

I want to thank the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Energy, as well as the sponsors of this bill for their support of our amendment.

Let me close by reminding of us that even with a budget deficit that’s come down a lot, it’s still expected to reach roughly $750 billion this year. 

We’ve got plenty of work to do to bring it down further.  We’ll be far more successful in that regard if we work together to foster what I call a “culture of thrift” in the federal government, asking this question of almost everything we do -- “How can we get a better result for less money or for the same amount of money?”

Almost everything needs to be on the table if we are to continue to whittle down the size of our federal budget deficit and restore our nation’s fiscal soundness for my own children and for yours.

If we can accomplish this, while at the same time creating well-paying jobs here at home and saving energy, we just might have pulled off one of those elusive triple plays that our fans will be talking about for seasons to come.