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Congresswoman Waters Votes for Landmark Clean Energy Jobs Legislation

July 20, 2009
Press Release

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) today voted to pass landmark clean energy legislation that will create millions of new American jobs, limit the pollution that causes climate change, and reduce our nation's dangerous dependence on foreign oil. The American Clean Energy and Security Act builds on clean energy investments made in the stimulus package and unleashes private sector investment to create jobs here in America that can't be outsourced.

"This bill is a crucial part of our economic recovery," said Congresswoman Waters. "It will create millions of new American jobs and entire new industries.  Helping reduce foreign oil imports by more than 5 million barrels a day — what we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela – improves our national security. We will also reduce the carbon pollution that causes global warming, using the same solution that successfully fought acid rain in the 1990s."

With a combination of price spike protections, energy refunds and cost-saving technology, this bill will protect consumers, keep costs low, and protect current jobs by helping energy-intensive industries transition to a cleaner, more profitable future. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the legislation would cost a typical American household less than a postage stamp per day, or less than $111 a year.

However, Congresswoman Waters emphasized that lower income households will see no new costs; in fact the Congressional Budget Office reports that they will actually save $40 per year with the plan.

The bill will significantly reduce dangerous pollution by limiting emissions from electric utilities, oil refineries, and other major sources. It also promotes all forms of American clean energy, including wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass.

This bill is the same type of market-based American solution successfully put into place to fight acid rain with the bipartisan Clean Air Act in 1990, which led to a 10 percent decrease in electricity rates and the creation of 16 million new jobs.

"This bill sets out to tackle a pressing global challenge in a way that creates jobs and grows the economy, makes us more energy independent, and protects consumers and taxpayers in the process," said Congresswoman Waters.

The legislation is supported by a coalition that includes consumer groups, electric utilities, car companies, manufacturers, environmental organizations, agriculture and forestry groups, and labor organizations among many others. 

H.R. 2454 also includes provides an amendment offered by Congresswoman Waters that provides funding for green retrofits of public and assisted housing.

"As Chairwoman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, I understand the need for green improvements to public and assisted housing," Congresswoman Waters said.  Earlier this month the Subcommittee held two hearings on H.R. 2336, the GREEN Act of 2009.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the largest operator of affordable housing in the nation, testified that it spends an estimated $5 billion annually on energy, more than 10 percent of its annual budget. "By implementing energy savings of 5 percent a year over five years, HUD could realize $1 billion in savings," Congresswoman Waters stated.

Low-income families who occupy HUD's housing are more likely to live in older and less energy efficient buildings. According to one study families in these developments spend approximately 16 percent of their annual income on energy, which is 4.4 times more than higher income families spend. "Many families must make the difficult choice of heating their homes or seeking other necessities, such as medical care, food, or transportation. This is simply unacceptable," Congresswoman Waters said.
To address this problem, Congresswoman Waters offered an amendment, which was included in the final bill, to dedicate 10 percent of funding from the Retrofit for Energy Efficiency and Performance program (REEP) for green improvements to public and assisted housing. This will provide $50 to $100 million a year for these important housing programs.

"I fought for the inclusion of this amendment to ensure the federal government meets its commitment to affordable housing," Congresswoman Waters stated. "Without these funds we would simply continue the irresponsible behavior of the previous administration which did everything in its power to demolish, diminish, and otherwise disinvest in the nation's affordable housing stock. My amendment corrects this injustice."

The funds would be provided to public housing units, Section 202 housing for the elderly, Section 811 housing for persons with disabilities, and housing in the project-based Section 8 program. In addition, Congresswoman Waters included language to protect tenants from possible rent increases, prohibit recipients from using the funds for demolition, and provide for the long-term affordability of developments receiving funding.