Biden-Harris Administration pushes energy efficiency
Insulators International Staff — Mon, Mar 14, 2022 @ 15:03 PM
On Nov. 15, 2021, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, known as the IIJA, into law.
This marked the single largest investment to repair and build American infrastructure. From the beginning, the Biden-Harris administration promised to make dramatic investments in energy efficiency in buildings by completing 4 million building retrofits.
This campaign promise has developed into several executive orders:
• On Dec. 8, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14057: Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability, which prioritizes a net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045, including a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2032. It calls for energy efficient buildings powered by carbon pollution-free electricity and will modernize the federal buildings portfolio to reach net-zero emissions by 2045, including a 50 percent reduction in building emissions by 2032.
• On Jan. 21, the Biden Administration launched the first ever Federal Building Performance Standard, a coalition of 33 states and local governments dedicated to creating good-paying, union jobs, lowering energy bills for consumers, keeping residents and workers safe from harmful pollution and cutting emissions from the building sector.
Union support at an all-time high
A recent Gallup poll found 68 percent of Americans approve of labor unions, the highest rate since 1965.
Many of us have heard President Biden state that unions built the middle class and lifts up workers. His support of union labor has remained a constant tenet of the Build Back Better agenda. The Department of Labor found that over 90 percent of BIL construction investments will be covered by Prevailing Wage protections to ensure fair wages and benefits for American workers.
Policy at play: Mechanical Insulation
The 435 representatives, 100 senators and 5 delegates of Congress are working through the ongoing COVID-19, increased extreme weather events and economic depression, amongst other crises, to deliver legislative solutions for the American people.
Many Democratic legislators believe the infrastructure package is incomplete without the passage of the Build
Back Better Act (BBBA).
President Biden plans to pass the BBBA through the Senate in at least two pieces. Several provisions did not survive this process. However, the LMCT’s Mechanical Insulation incentive has a high likelihood of passing through the energy efficiency and conservation pieces.
The LMCT is working to protect the Mechanical Insulation tax incentive within the Senate Finance Committee language in the BBBA. The passage of this legislation would mean American taxpayers would be directly supporting and relying on Mechanical Insulation professionals to make the U.S. energy infrastructure more resilient, efficient and affordable.
Aside from the BBBA process, Congress has introduced a variety of energy efficiency bills that could be beneficial to the LMCT and HFIAW:
• H.R. 5889 – The American Energy Efficiency Act was introduced by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) on Nov. 4, 2021, and included procedures for counting electricity savings and natural gas savings achieved from additional Mechanical Insulation.
• H.R. 6437 – The Heating and Cooling Relief Act was introduced by Rep. Jamaal Brown (D-N.Y.) and would provide funds toward home repairs for energy efficiency.
• S. 2066 – The INSULATE Buildings Act was introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on June 15, 2021, and would fund revolving loans for energy audits and efficiency improvements.
• S. 3121 – The Promoting American Energy Jobs Act was introduced on Oct. 28, 2021, by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and would establish an Energy Jobs Council to conduct a survey of employers/employees in the energy, energy efficiency and motor vehicle industries.
Educating Congress and Administration
It is imperative we expand and create a stronger footprint for the LMCT within the federal government.
Mechanical Insulation and Firestopping offer a multitude of financial, environmental and safety benefits, but there is a lack of knowledge and understanding of Mechanical Insulation energy audits and the benefits of Firestopping amongst many government officials in both the legislative and executive branches.
The LMCT is well on its way toward ensuring Mechanical Insulation energy audits are recommended, incentivized and enforced at all levels of government. This is being accomplished through aggressive outreach to key federal entities and stakeholders including the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, key leaders in Congress and through engagement with White House officials.
The year ahead
Traditionally, the President’s budget offers the proposed funding levels for the upcoming fiscal year in the second week of February. However, President Biden’s 2023 Budget is expected to be released after the State of the Union address, which will be on March 1, after this report was written.
Congress continues to avoid shutdowns as they negotiate the passage of BBBA, but in smaller bills. Congressional leaders have secured a funding agreement to keep the Federal government open until March.
In December 2021, congressional leaders reached an agreement to raise the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion or to nearly $31 trillion. This will enable the Federal government to pay for its expenses until early 2023 and avoid another debt ceiling fight before the 2022 midterm elections. The debt ceiling is nearly a century old and is not an authorization of additional spending, but to pay for spending already made by Congress.
The Biden Administration has prioritized a whole-of-government approach, which means the White House has been coordinating with several governmental agencies to provide solutions to a particular challenge or issue.
Notable issues include the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions and the climate crisis. One example for tackling climate change is President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which directs the Federal government to ensure at least 40 percent of federal climate investments go directly to frontline communities most affected by poverty and pollution.
Every building enhanced by LMCT affiliated contractors and the members of the Insulators Union they employ, will improve the environment for all.
About State Federal Strategies: State Federal Strategies is a strategic public and government affairs team who bring a unique combination of experience and expertise in the sectors of government, politics and public affairs strategic planning. We have significant experience working with labor and allied trades.
About Richard Sullivan: Richard Sullivan is a partner with State Federal Strategies and brings 30 years of a unique combination of policy, legislative and political experience to representation of the nation’s leading National Associations before Federal and State governmental entities