We can act now to channel over $1 billion into local government efforts to improve energy efficiency, lower energy usage, and reduce fossil fuel emissions.
This morning I took part in an important workshop at the National League of Cities conference in Washington. It dealt with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG), which was authorized by Congress in its big energy bill last year (the same bill which finally mandated improved auto fuel efficiency standards).
EECBG will make grants to cities and towns across America, to help undertake initiatives such as updating building codes and retrofitting old buildings for energy efficiency, creating and implementing local renewable energy projects, developing incentives for local citizens to use transportation alternatives like public transit and bikes, and other energy-saving campaigns.
Imagine the kinds of positive programs we can undertake in cities and towns across North Carolina with our share of a billion-plus dollars for energy efficiency. Enough to drive an economic stake into the heart of ill-advised plans like Cliffside? It would certainly help.
Congress last year authorized funding the program at up to $2 billion per year for five years. But, now here is the catch: Authorization is not funding. Congress needs to act this year to include funding for EECBG if the grants are to be available on the ground for us to employ.
So here's my pitch: Please call your Congressional representative and ask them to support full funding of EECBG. (That's $2 billion a year.) The issue will be included in the omnibus budget authorization bill, under consideration in Congress now.
Our Democratic reps should be very receptive to this pitch, but they need to be reminded that it's important. Even the GOP reps are worth calling on this if you live in their district. (They're up for re-election too, and this one could be popular across party lines.)