The climate bill the U.S House passed June 26 is not the solution to the nation’s energy problems, the National Association of Home Builders says.
The climate bill the U.S House
passed June 26 is not the solution to the nation’s energy problems, the National Association of Home
"The hard truth is that
we can't build our way out of this problem," said association Chairman Joe
Robson, a builder and developer in Tulsa, Okla. "We need to make sure our
utilities more efficiently generate and transmit power. We need to make our
existing housing stock more energy efficient. We need to reduce our 'plug load'
-- home appliances, televisions and computers -- and make these products more
“This bill's focus on new
home construction won't get us very far at all,” Robson said.
By a narrow 219-212 vote,
the House Friday approved a bill designed to curb the nation’s hunger for
fossil fuels and protect the environment from the warming effects of greenhouse
gases. It places limits on man-made carbon dioxide emissions under a
cap-and-trade system, which would allow polluting industries to buy and sell permits to
exceed those limits, although the legislation eventually would require
polluters to cut emissions to 17 percent below their 2005 levels within a
It would also mandate up to
15 percent of U.S.-produced electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.
Among its energy-efficiency
provisions is a rule that new homes be 30 percent more efficient than the
minimums in the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code. By 2014, that
increases to 50 percent and rises an additional 5 percent every three years,
according to NAHB officials.
"That's simply too far,
too fast," Robson said. "The market is not geared up to supply the
necessary materials and equipment, and that's going to drive up costs. The
result will be fewer working-class families in these new energy-efficient
homes. They'll be relegated to older, less efficient housing stock and face
ever higher utility bills."
He urged Congress to come up
with more reasonable and cost-effective standards in final legislation.
"This isn't about
making it easier on builders. It's about coming up with a solution that makes
sense and takes a balanced approach -- not one that looks only to new buildings
for energy reductions," Robson said. "We are at a particularly
fragile point in our economic recovery, and saddling home buyers with
additional costs makes it even more difficult to get a mortgage when credit is
The bill's prospects in the Senate are uncertain. Despite strong lobbying of
fellow Democrats by President Barack Obama, 44 House Democrats and all but eight
Republicans opposed the legislation, making it almost certain the Senate will significantly change the bill, which could still face a filibuster. It has also drawn criticism from environmental groups for being too
lenient on polluting industries like coal.
The president hopes to have
a bill ready for his signature by fall.
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