Programs that are critical to our ongoing efforts to be responsible, energy efficient actors in the build environment are in danger of being de-funded. Verdani is encouraging our partners to advocate for the usefulness of such programs by writing letters and joining important coalitions to make our voices heard and to preserve these important programs. Organizations like the Urban Land Institute and the Real Estate Roundtable are monitoring the progress and are issuing specific actions as they continue their research. Below is a selection of articles that discuss the possible de-funding:
March 16, 2017 update from Fulya Kocak, Vice President of Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Issues of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts:
Today, NAREIT, RER, NAIOP, BOMA and NMHC met with Senate Committee on Appropriations to discuss why Energy Star is very important to our members and real estate industry. We will continue our advocacy meetings in the coming weeks. Our meeting was very timely, since White House budget blue print was issued today. Energy Star is now mentioned as one of the possible cuts on this document. See Page 41 at https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/2018_blueprint.pdf
“Eliminates more than 50 EPA programs, saving an additional $347 million compared to the 2017 annualized CR level. Lower priority and poorly performing programs and grants are not funded, nor are duplicative functions that can be absorbed into other programs or that are State and local responsibilities. Examples of eliminations in addition to those previously mentioned include: Energy Star; Targeted Airshed Grants; the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program; and infrastructure assistance to Alaska Native Villages and the Mexico Border.” – page 42
Discontinues funding for the Clean Power Plan, international climate change programs, climate change research and partnership programs, and related efforts—saving over $100 million for the American taxpayer compared to 2017 annualized CR levels. Consistent with the President’s America First Energy Plan, the Budget reorients EPA’s air program to protect the air we breathe without unduly burdening the American economy.”
The EPA is taking public comment up until Monday, May 15th on their proposal of removing current air pollution regulations (Executive Order 13777):
“The Trump administration has to answer your questions before it can touch current environmental protections pertaining to the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act which protect our water and air. If you comment at regulations.gov during the comment period for a proposed rule-change, law requires federal agencies such as the EPA to read and take into account your comment before they can change their rules.”
Below are tips on how to provide an affective comment:
Below is the list of reasons the executive order cited as to why to eliminate the regulations. We can use these 6 issues as to why we need the regulations:
(i) Eliminate jobs, or inhibit job creation;
(ii) are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective;
(iii) impose costs that exceed benefits;
(iv) create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory reform initiatives and policies;
(v) are inconsistent with the requirements of section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriates Act, 2001 (44 U.S.C. 3516 note), or the guidance issued pursuant to that provision in particular those regulations that rely in whole or in part on data, information, or methods that are not publicly available or that are insufficiently transparent to meet the standard of reproducibility; or
(vi) derive from or implement Executive Orders or other Presidential directives that have been subsequently rescinded or substantially modified.
Below is the letter that was sent from the USGBC that many signed that can be used as reference as it relates to affective programs in place:
“As a building industry professional I am writing to urge you to oppose the Administration’s proposed elimination of vital Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs and drastic and arbitrary budget cuts.
EPA provides a range of voluntary programs, tools, technical assistance, research, and data vital to helping businesses and consumers save money by investing in efficiency and reducing negative environmental impacts. Specifically, I urge you to support the continuation of ENERGY STAR, WaterSense and Safer Choice and at least level funding for these programs for FY2018.
ENERGY STAR has a long track record of success, is extremely cost-effective and is the most widely recognized symbol for energy efficiency. For every incremental dollar Americans invested in energy efficiency under ENERGY STAR, they reduced their energy bills by an average of $4.50. Since 1992, ENERGY STAR has saved Americans $430 billion on utility bills. Additionally, ENERGY STAR has certified more than 5 billion square feet of space and counts more than 3,100 homebuilder partners who constructed almost 1.8 million certified new homes since 1995.
The voluntary WaterSense program serves a vital function in reducing water consumption by identifying water-efficient products that are at least 20% more efficient than standard products. To date, WaterSense has helped consumers save 1.5 trillion gallons of water and more than $32.6 billion in water and energy bills since the program’s creation in 2006. In many parts of the country, water savings is increasingly critical to enable future growth and development in the face of water shortage and drought.
Safer Choice, the EPA’s label for chemical-based products, has carefully evaluated more than 2,000 products commonly used in our homes, commercial offices, hotels, and schools. To earn the Safer Choice label, a product must comply with a strict set of standards of human health and environmental criteria.
Unpredictable utility prices, water shortages and drought and transparency in everyday chemical-based materials make investments in efficiency and performance more essential. Voluntary, cost-effective programs like ENERGY STAR, WaterSense and Safer Choice have long enjoyed wide bipartisan, industry and consumer support. Please support the continuation of these programs and at least level funding in FY2018.”
Another comment I found that I think is helpful as a history lesson/reminder:
“Protecting the environment and our communities represents a 40 year old bipartisan consensus. President Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Protection Act that formed the EPA as well as the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the Clean Water Act of 1972. President Jimmy Carter signed into law what became known as Superfund (that mandates and funds the clean up of hazardous waste sites) as well as an update to the Clean water Act (1977). President Reagan signed a law that requires the disclosure of how much companies pollute (EPCRA). President George H.W. Bush signed the Clean Air Act of 1990 that mandated the successful use of a cap and trade system to address and solve the acid rain problem. Early in the Obama presidency, there was growing bipartisan consensus on climate change in the Senate. Protecting the environment is hardly a special-interest issue, or radical. It’s completely American and has enjoyed broad support for nearly half a century. (Source: various: wikipedia, EPA history on EPA website)”
We will continue to update this post as we receive more information.