The House Appropriations Committee voted on July 18 to pass the Fiscal Year 2018 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill, which provides $31.4 billion to federal investments in natural resources. This budget is $824 million less than 2017, and part of that cut is to 2018 Energy Star funding, which would drop to $31 million, a reduction of 40 percent.
The bill is $4.3 billion more than the Trump administration's budget request. The administration had previously called for the complete defunding of the Energy Star program.
The entirety of the bill would go to the Department of the Interior, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other agencies.
"This legislation responsibly supports the agencies and offices we rely on to preserve our natural resources for future generations, and prioritizes our limited funding to programs that protect environmental safety, such as the Chemical Safety Board," said U.S. Representative Rodney Frelinhuysen, House Appropriations Chairman.
However, despite claims that the bill cuts wasteful spending, ineffective programs, and burdensome regulation, Energy Star proponents argue the program is voluntary, remains popular with bipartisan support, and has been successful at saving money, energy, and emissions.
"Energy Star is one of the most popular government programs in U.S. history and has enjoyed broad bipartisan support since it was created under President George H.W. Bush," said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. "More than 90 percent of Americans know the Energy Star brand and nearly half have an Energy Star-rated appliance in their home. Meanwhile, 16,000 companies have voluntarily signed up to participate in it."
Because of its popularity and success, the Energy Star program has expanded to certify homes, commercial buildings, and manufacturing plants. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, certified Energy Star buildings have saved approximately $13 billion through the program.
According to EnergyStar.gov, the program helped American homes and businesses save $34 billion in 2015, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the program, calculates every $1 invested in Energy Star-certified products saves $4.50 in lower utility bills.
Congress will decide Energy Star's fate in the coming weeks as this bill moves ahead to become part of the 2018 comprehensive spending bill that must pass by the end of September to avoid a federal government shutdown.
About The Author
Timothy Johnson is the former digital editor for ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine.