Murkowski statement on building efficiency

February 26, 2009
05:25 PM
FEBRUARY 24, 2009                                                or ANNE JOHNSON (202) 224-7875                                   
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today gave the following statement at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on improving energy efficiency in buildings:
Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening this hearing today.  This Committee is certainly going to be busy over the next several weeks as we work to craft another comprehensive energy bill.   Today’s topic – how best to reduce energy consumption in buildings through energy efficiency – will be an important component of this ongoing debate.
There is no question that the nation, and indeed the world, must step up our energy efficiency efforts.  Many refer to energy efficiency as the “fifth fuel” or “low-hanging fruit.”  According to the Alliance to Save Energy, efficiency is the “cheapest, quickest, cleanest resource we have.”  However it is generally characterized, as a way to ensure adequate and reliable energy supplies, and to simply use what we already have more effectively. 
Congress enacted strong energy efficiency measures in both the 2005 Energy Policy Act and the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act.  In those bills we addressed everything from energy efficiency savings in buildings, appliances and lighting products, to vehicles.
Of course, many of the programs authorized by Congress had not been previously funded in annual appropriations bills.  The agencies are now receiving unprecedented funding as a result of the stimulus, and it is my hope that this money will itself be efficiently used to promote our energy efficiency goals.  We must, however, be mindful that this funding is only temporary.  As we examine future policy initiatives, our goals must be targeted and realistic.
It is important to frame this debate.  We should consider several questions, such as:  What have we done to meet our energy efficiency goals?  Where do we want to go with energy efficiency?  How can we best pursue new options? 
As we’ll learn from today’s testimony, the goal of these actions is defined differently by everyone appearing before us. 
·        It may be cutting operating costs and passing those costs onto consumers;
·        It may be conformity to uniform standards, such as the imposition of federal building codes; or  
·        It may be reducing greenhouse gases and fossil fuel consumption.
Increasing energy security is the one goal we all share.
However, just as there is no one ‘silver bullet’ for solving our nation’s energy challenges, there is no silver bullet for deciding how energy efficiency is most effective.  Despite our best intentions, a government mandated standard doesn’t necessarily translate into maximum efficiency in real life.  I do, however, believe that there is a role for both the public and private sectors as we grapple with these issues.
I’d like to thank all of our witnesses for joining us today.  I look forward to hearing your testimony and getting your thoughts on the issues I have outlined.  Mr. Chairman, thank you again for convening this important hearing.    
For further information, please contact Robert Dillon at 202.224.6977 or or Anne Johnson at 202.224.7875 or