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Congress Sends Energy Efficiency Bill To White House For President’s Signature

Green Tech: Legislation will boost demand for chemistry products, such as window and roofing coatings, insulation, piping, and lighting

by Steven K. Gibb
April 24, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 17

A restaurant dining room in a high-rise building with prominent windows.
Credit: Eastman Chemical Company
This Houston hotel has low-emissivity (low-e) film installed on its windows, reducing radiant heat transfer.

The House of Representatives gave final approval this week to a bill to boost energy efficiency, sending the measure to the White House after a marathon three-year push by the chemical industry and other advocates.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law. The bill, S. 535, which was approved by the Senate last month, includes incentives to cut energy use in federal, commercial, manufacturing, school, and residential buildings.

Authored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Robert J. Portman (R-Ohio), the measure received strong bipartisan support and cleared each chamber by voice vote.

Shaheen said the bill’s merits were “never a tough sell,” but noted that she and Portman worked hard to convince lawmakers to not “play politics with a good idea.”

Portman said the bill will boost the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers while protecting the environment.

Industry advocates say the manufacturing energy efficiency program will help energy-intensive industries in the chemistry and other sectors become more competitive in global markets.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry trade association, joined a wide variety of stakeholders in urging lawmakers to pass the legislation.

“The business sector, state and local governments, consumer, environmental, efficiency and other interest groups—who often have as divergent positions on issues as do Members of Congress—have all united in their firm belief that energy efficiency legislation represents sound energy policy for our country,” ACC said in a letter to Congress.

The group, which represents major chemical manufacturers, also noted that markets for energy-efficient products are growing as “chemistry companies invent and make products used in building insulation, appliances, lightweight plastic vehicle parts, windows, engine lubricants, compact fluorescent light bulbs, energy storage systems, thermal coatings, and many others.”

The legislation requires federal agencies to document energy use benchmarks and develop best efficient practices.



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