Senate Interior Appropriations Amendment Threatens Federal Efficiency Initiative

Release Date: Friday, June 25, 1999

In a move described today as "unbelievable" by President Bill Clinton, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) inserted language into the Senate Interior Appropriations bill designed to block the implementation of President Clinton's sweeping executive order issued earlier this month requiring federal agencies to cut their energy use by 30 percent over the next decade.

"Senator Cochran's amendment would put the fat back into government," said David Nemtzow, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, a bipartisan coalition of business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders. President Clinton's recent Executive Order 13123, Greening the Government Through Efficient Energy Management, incorporated many of the recommendations contained in an Alliance to Save Energy report on how to cut energy waste in the federal government. The report outlines $1 billion worth of potential annual savings achievable through aggressive steps to improve energy efficiency in federal government facilities.

The language on the Interior Appropriations bill was adopted on a voice vote by members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which funds the Department of Energy (DOE). It would forbid the use of funds "to study, develop, or implement procedures or policies to establish energy efficiency, energy use or energy acquisition rules or guidelines other than those based upon the provisions of the Energy Conservation Policy Act (EPCA) of 1975."

Sen. Cochran indicated in his remarks accompanying its introduction that it was meant to block the implementation of Clinton's executive order, which he described as a "thinly disguised effort to implement the Kyoto Agreement.

"This kind of thing almost defies comprehension," declared Nemtzow. "Senator Cochran is attempting to turn back the clock 25 years on federal energy efficiency efforts with a surprise amendment to an Appropriations bill."

"Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and the entire Alliance to Save Energy will be mounting a full-court press to fix this bill on the Senate floor," said Nemtzow. "The executive order, if fully implemented, would make the federal government a model energy consumer -— reducing air pollution and shrinking the federal government's utility bills by $1 billion a year. This misguided amendment would kill this effort — and do so at great expense to taxpayers. I am confident that Senate leadership will not allow it to stand."