Proposed Senate Climate Bill Undermines Efforts to Build Greener Structures and Make Infrastructure More Efficient
By Establishing New Regulatory Obstacles and Robbing Transportation Funds, Bill Will Make it More Difficult to Cut Pollution and Emissions from Built Environment, Contractors' Group Says
"Improving the efficiency of our built environment - including commercial buildings, transportation infrastructure and water systems - presents one of the greatest opportunities to reduce power consumption and cut greenhouse gas emissions. After all, the nation's building inventory accounts for 35 percent of the nation's manmade greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 40 percent of the nation's energy, while our aging and inefficient transportation network accounts for another 27 percent of energy consumption and 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
"Despite this tremendous opportunity, Senators Kerry and Lieberman have proposed legislation that makes it harder to construct new, more energy efficient buildings and factories, improve aging infrastructure and eliminate the traffic congestion that wastes fuel and pollutes our environment. By allowing the EPA a virtually free hand to approve or deny construction and rehabilitation projects, the bill creates regulatory obstacles that will raise construction costs, delay projects and stifle demand. Worse, by taking funds raised through the proposal's new transportation fees and committing all but a small percentage to unrelated spending, the legislation leaves our aging and inefficient roads, airways and transit systems vastly underfunded.
"The inevitable consequences of this bill are higher taxes, fewer jobs, and continued reliance on wasteful buildings, inefficient infrastructure and leaky water systems. Stifling economic growth and neglecting our primary environmental challenges is not an effective way to address climate change. Instead, Congress and the Administration should focus on the measures we identify in our "Building a Green Future" plan.
"Our green construction plan identifies steps public officials, developers, and the construction community must take to lessen the impact of our built environment. Measures in the plan include doubling existing energy efficiency tax credits for commercial buildings; passing the Building Star program that invests $6 billion in improving the efficiency of commercial buildings; and speeding reviews and boosting tax credits for green building projects.
"The plan also calls for public building projects to incorporate state-of-the-art environmental solutions and for the federal government to make pragmatic investments in research and technology. It makes it easier to launch new transit projects, shifts cargo traffic to energy efficient barges and accelerates federal approval for new transportation projects in congested corridors. And it calls for making the level of transportation investments virtually every expert agrees are needed to improve capacity and reduce traffic.
"What the Senators appear to have forgotten is you can't simply regulate a greener future, you have to build it," said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America.