400 Local Officials Show Support for the Energy Efficiency Block Grant Program

This release was produced by the National League of Cities.

The National League of Cities (NLC) today presented key Senators with the signatures of nearly 400 local officials from 46 states in support of funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. In a meeting today with Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), NLC officials displayed 400 energy-efficient light bulbs representing the innovative work already occurring in cities and towns across the country to advance energy conservation.

"Funding for the program will enable local officials to take new actions or build on the many existing approaches leading toward greater energy independence and security. The light bulbs represent one example of the kind of partnerships cities and towns can forge with local businesses and non-profits under the provisions of the Grant program," said NLC President Cynthia McCollum today during the presentation ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, donated the light bulbs as part of their commitment to energy conservation. NLC plans to give the bulbs to the Newark, NJ, Housing Authority.

Securing full funding for the Block Grant is a top legislative priority for NLC and the nation's cities and towns. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 authorized $2 billion annually for the newly created Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. In a letter delivered today to the chairs and members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, McCollum and the nearly 400 local officials urged support for a supplemental appropriations for FY 2008 as well as full funding for FY 2009. The Appropriations Committees are expected to take up the measure in the coming weeks.

McCollum said, "Municipal governments can have considerable influence over greenhouse gas emissions. Cities are already taking action to save money; promote new jobs; reduce waste; and support new technology. Funding from the Grant can help cities and towns leverage more dollars from other sources to help solve what is a national problem. This will enable us all to preserve our natural resources for future generations."

Senator Sanders said, "The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program is modeled after the highly successful Community Development Block Grants. This new program is intended to support on-the-ground efforts by cities, towns, and states as they tackle our serious energy challenges. The program provides federal recognition of grassroots efforts and supports their pursuit of solutions that reduce fossil fuel emissions, reduce total energy use, and improve energy efficiency. I truly believe that there is infinite potential in the new program and hope that Vermont towns step forward, once funding is available."

"The signs that we need to become a more energy-efficient and ultimately energy-independent nation are hard to miss - gas nearing $4 a gallon, climate change and our souring economy are just a few," said Senator Menendez. "Our nation's cities have been leading the way to make us a greener, more secure country. This block grant program will reward and encourage this local leadership. Hopefully, one day soon, the federal government will follow the lead of our cities, because the sooner we green our economy, the sooner we can heal our environment, our economy, and our relationship with the world. I applaud the National League of Cities for its work toward this goal."

Seven of NLC's corporate partners also expressed their support for funding for the Block Grant program by delivering a joint letter stating, "As corporate leaders…we share the belief that funding would enable cities to continue an important partnership with the federal government in implementing innovative energy efficiency and conservation programs that benefit both the local and national economy." Organizations signing the letter include: AT&T, ESRI, ICMA-RC, Johnson Controls, Southern California Edison, Waste Management, and Weston Solutions.

Areas where cities can focus their energy efficiency and conservation efforts under the Grant could include:
• Public buildings and facilities such as sports stadiums, landfills, and waste treatment plants which either consume large amounts of energy or produce greenhouse gases;
• Building codes to encourage energy efficiency;
• Regulation of automobile parking, roadways and traffic flow, and use of energy-efficient street lights;
• Procurement of "green" products such as recycled paper and fleets of clean energy vehicles (transit, trucks or autos); and
• Use of renewable energy (solar, wind, biogas) as sources for local utilities.