June 25, 2008

Urban Caucus Leaders Fattah and Turner Cite Funding Progress on Energy Efficiency Grants

The U.S. House of Representatives today has taken an important step toward federal funding for local energy efficiency programs, a top priority for the Congressional Urban Caucus, according to a bipartisan joint announcement by Caucus Chairman Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Caucus Vice Chairman Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH).

The House Appropriations Committee approved $295 million for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants as part of the $33.265 billion Energy and Water Appropriations bill that it will send to the House floor. When enacted the $295 million would be the first energy efficiency grant dollars approved under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

"This is very good news, especially for our nation's urban areas. Each community can design a grant application to fit its own energy efficiency needs - weatherization programs, wind and solar power, building more energy-efficient schools or police stations," Congressman Fattah said.

"It is innovation from the ground up, not dictated from Washington," Fattah said. "It's all about energy efficiency. Mayors and county officials will get to decide how best to use the grant money, not one-size-fits-all. And every city can expect a share of the pie."

Congressman Turner, the former mayor of Dayton, Ohio, said, "Funding this grant program will create an important partnership between cities, states, and the federal government. America's cities will be able to use the funding from these grants to make their communities more energy efficient and help families respond to rising energy costs."

Energy Efficiency Block Grants provide for 68 percent of funding to go toward city and county programs, 28 percent for state programs and the rest divided among tribal and competitive grant programs.

Fattah, a member of the Appropriations Committee as well as the subcommittee handling the bill, said the $295 million appropriation is just a start, and he will continue pushing for higher funding in the future.

Congressman Fattah, as chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Urban Caucus, as well as a member of the Appropriations Committee's energy subcommittee, has joined with Vice Chairman Turner in taking the lead to mobilize their colleagues for the cause of energy efficiency.

Fattah drew cheers from several hundred mayors on Sunday at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami, Fla., when he told them the energy efficiency grants were now moving their way. He promised the bipartisan Urban Caucus would continue to serve as the mayors' advocates for a full-fledged urban agenda for metropolitan areas, long missing in Congress.

Turner, in a letter to colleagues this spring, urged full funding over five years for the energy efficiency grants. He wrote, "Our nation's energy challenges require immediate action... (T)he program will help local governments develop and implement comprehensive energy efficiency strategies to help the nation meet its energy and climate protection goals."