05/03/17 : Daniel Bresette

Support for ENERGY STAR is Stronger and Louder Than Ever

The big news following the release of the administration’s budget blueprint on March 16 was a set of proposals to eliminate several marquee energy efficiency programs that the Alliance considers among our highest priorities. One of the more disappointing proposed cuts—along with plans to zero out funding that supports state initiatives and helps low-income and elderly Americans make improvements to their homes—was to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s venerable ENERGY STAR® program.  As word spread that the budget blueprint would do away with a voluntary program as popular and successful as ENERGY STAR, we leveraged our alarm into a call to action. Alliance President Kateri Callahan proclaimed: “We oppose these cuts in the strongest possible terms and will do everything we can to fight them in Congress. Cutting this funding is the definition of penny-wise, pound foolish. We should be increasing funding, not reducing it.” 

Since then, Kateri’s vow has been amplified and repeated by our allies in dozens of news stories and opinion pieces. ENERGY STAR has become a symbol of the common-sense, cost-effective, and business-friendly approach to reducing waste and saving money that embodies energy efficiency as a federal policy option. The response and outpouring of support for ENERGY STAR has been swift and sure. 

Just this week, on Monday, two of our most committed champions on Capitol Hill—Alliance Honorary Board Members Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.)—organized a bipartisan coalition of 57 members of Congress and wrote to the Trump administration with their support for ENERGY STAR.  Reps. Kinzinger and Tonko wrote:  “Since 1992, this entirely voluntary program has provided consumers and homeowners with valuable product information so they can invest in energy efficiency with confidence and save money on their monthly utility bills.” Reps. David McKinley (R-W.V.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who also serve on the Alliance’s Honorary Board and are stalwarts of energy efficiency in the House of Representatives, also signed the letter. 

The proposal to cut ENERGY STAR really struck a nerve. And not just among energy efficiency advocates and policymakers. We also heard from thousands upon thousands of American homeowners, consumers, and businesses. 

On April 24, almost 1,100 ENERGY STAR Partners joined the Alliance and signed a letter of support of ENERGY STAR. You might have read about this in your local paper. The story was covered by the Associated Press and carried by the New York Times, Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer and scores more. These Partners wrote: 

ENERGY STAR successfully overcomes market barriers to energy efficiency by awarding a simple, clear symbol that gives consumers confidence that they are buying a highly efficient product. It enjoys a long track record of success and should be strengthened, not weakened, to ensure it continues providing these important benefits to the public while helping us meet our energy and environmental goals.

The Alliance and 82 other businesses—including, to name a few, 3M, Cree, Intel, and Samsung—and organizations sent a funding request letter on March 21 to House and Senate appropriators. This letter focused on the wide range of benefits of ENERGY STAR that are realized every year by homeowners (of new and retrofitted existing houses), consumers, businesses, utilities, low-income and rural families, and state and local governments. 

And Americans who base, in part, their purchasing decisions on ENERGY STAR made their voices heard.  Our grassroots network of “E-Advocates” generated over 10,200 letters to Congress over the course of several weeks. Each letter urged their respective senators and representative to stand against the proposed elimination of ENERGY STAR and severe cuts to a range of other important and beneficial energy efficiency programs. 

The long-term future of ENERGY STAR is still uncertain. House and Senate leaders are poised to pass a spending measure this week that staves off the drastic cuts to EPA that were proposed in the budget blueprint, which is a positive sign. However, the latest spending measure will only last through September.  After that, when the fiscal calendar flips to FY2018, we do not know what will happen. What we do know, however, is that ENERGY STAR and other federal efficiency programs enjoy significant support from every corner.  And that we will do our best to ensure that any efforts to weaken or eliminate these programs will once again be met with stiff resistance.