Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


May 30, 2013

All-of-the-above approach: Senate bill, state challenge welcomed

So just how toxic are opinions toward fossil fuels in Washington? Consider this: legislation passed back in 2007, when former President George W. Bush was still in the White House, mandated that federal buildings reduce their reliance on fossil fuels with a 100 percent reduction by 2030.

And as we’ve seen during the past four years, efforts by Washington lawmakers, and the Obama administration, to curtail the usage of fossil fuels such as coal have continued at an alarming pace. That’s why we welcome another common-sense, bipartisan measure introduced last week in the U.S. Senate.

The All-Of-The-Above Federal Building Energy Conservation Act of 2013 was introduced last week by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. The legislation aims to ensure that alterations and additions to federal buildings meet minimum energy efficiency requirements, encourages the use of energy management systems and maintains those systems’ proper operation while also utilizing an “all-of-the-above energy policy approach” that includes fossil fuels.

It specifically repeals Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which mandated that federal buildings reduce reliance on fossil fuels with 100 percent reduction by 2030.

“As governors, we both relied on common sense to guide our state policies, and this bill applies that much needed common sense to federal policies,” Manchin said.

“We should be using all of our abundant resources — including coal — to power our nation in the most efficient way possible. Our bill accomplishes this and proves the federal government can lead the way in using fossil fuels to achieve greater energy efficiency.”

In place of Section 433, the Manchin-Hoeven backed measure would extend current energy efficiency targets from a 30 percent reduction by 2015 to a 45 percent reduction by 2020.

Manchin says the bill was introduced as a stand-alone piece of legislation but is intended as an amendment to the energy efficiency legislation being offered by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, which the Senate is expected to consider in the coming weeks.

Supporters of the Manchin-Hoeven legislation include the Alliance to Save Energy, the American Gas Association, the American Public Gas Association, the American Public Power Association, the Edison Electric Institute, the Federal Performance Contracting Coalition, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the National Association of Energy Service Companies. Manchin and Hoeven both serve on the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Also last week, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced the state had filed a friend of the court brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a challenge to Environmental Protection Agency rules. The rules in question would allow the federal government to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources.

West Virginia, Kansas and Montana want the U.S. Supreme Court to clarify that the EPA has misinterpreted the Clean Air Act and has overstepped its regulatory authority, the Associated Press reported.

Tomblin correctly notes that the proposed EPA rules on greenhouse gases threaten coal mining jobs in West Virginia and weaken the nation’s efforts toward energy independence.

Both efforts — on the federal and state level — are welcomed. The common-sense measure introduced in the Senate merits full consideration and support. And, with hope, the Supreme Court will hear West Virginia’s challenge to the EPA rules. All energy resources — including coal and other fossil fuels that have been demonized by Washington — should be utilized to achieve true energy independence and energy efficiency.

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