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Stanton speaks to US Conference of Mayors on Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program

Rep. Greg Stanton

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This weekend, I spoke at the United States Conference of Mayors’ 89th winter meeting about challenges cities face today. We agree that when it comes to helping local communities tackle climate change, we need to reauthorize the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program.

When this program was funded, state and local governments advanced 800 projects that brought us one step closer to a green future. I’m grateful to have the support of so many fellow mayors.

You can read more about the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program here and watch or read my remarks at the conference below.

Thank you for that kind introduction, Mayor Kriseman. It is great to be with you all, back with my fellow mayors again — especially this committee, which I had the honor of chairing during my time as Phoenix mayor.

Before I begin, I want to give a special shout-out to Mayor Kate Gallego, the current Phoenix mayor. She is doing an incredible job, and we are fortunate to have her steady leadership during this challenging time.

My move from City Hall to Congress has come with great challenges and opportunity. To say the least, it has been an eventful experience over the past two years — heck, these last two weeks have been eventful.

This wild swing from insurrection to inauguration has instilled in me a greater understanding of how fragile our democracy really is … where we all fit into it… what our oaths demand of us … how far meaningful, collective actions can go;…how much work we have to do. I am humbled and privileged to champion some of that work with you all.

By my count, there are 70 former local officials, on both sides of the aisle, serving in Congress — all with the opportunity to elevate the concerns of our cities to our colleagues … and all with an advantage most of their colleagues have not earned.

As former local officials, we bring a shared experience to this job…and a unique perspective that is often needed in debates here in Washington.

We know the importance of working together with all levels of government and what it takes to get things done by working across the aisle. There are no Republican or Democratic potholes.

We’ve been on the front lines of issues that impact our communities directly, and we know what is needed to help them find solutions.

Everything we do here in Washington has an impact on communities across our country and it is important for us to always think about how our work affects people where they live.

Local officials understand that when the federal government steps up, the impact in a community can be immediate and direct.

That perspective is so valuable.

When we have leaders in Congress with local government experience, they understand urgency. They understand the impact a federal grant can have. They understand how to be a good partner to cities and towns.

One area we need to continue to partner with our local governments is in the ongoing response to the pandemic. Our cities are on the front lines and it is crucial that the federal government provide the resources necessary to meet the most basic needs and combat this virus.

Unfortunately, the COVID package we passed in December fell short — providing ZERO dollars for local governments. That failure further hindered already starved programs that our neighbors depended on the most and made it harder for their local leaders to combat and contain this pandemic.

Our communities need this support and President Biden’s proposed COVID package would deliver $350 billion. Assistance for our local governments is a priority for me in the next package, and I look forward to working with the Administration.

One of my priorities in Congress is to bring the local perspective to the work we do. For me that started with the first bill I introduced– a simple, straightforward effort to support our local governments and address climate change.

With the strong support of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, my legislation would reauthorize the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, providing $3.5 billion a year in grants to state, local and tribal governments. These grants would enable local governments to fund projects that reduce the use of fossil fuels and conserve energy.

And to build on the program’s previous success, we added the goal of energy supply diversification by promoting the use of alternative fuels and funding for delivery methods like pumps and EV charging stations.

This bill will create jobs, help consumers save on their energy bills, and reduce carbon pollution.

In fact, a national evaluation of the program’s effectiveness found that, with just one year of funding, it generated $5.2 billion in lifetime cost savings, created 63,000 jobs, and avoided the emission of 25.7 million metric tons of carbon equivalent.

Just imagine what could happen if we continued to fund this program … because when we have, local governments have delivered.

When this program was last funded, state and local governments advanced 800 projects … from energy retrofits to deployment of LED street lighting and solar energy systems … to EV charging stations and alternative fuel pumps.

Those were all projects that we worked on in Phoenix, and I know firsthand what an impact they can make.

The Select Committee on the Climate Crisis identified this bill as one of many steps Congress should take to address climate change. And it was endorsed by the New Dems as part of their climate change priorities.

We made some important progress on the bill last Congress. It passed the House last year….not ONCE,….but TWICE…..first as a part of the infrastructure package and second in the Clean Economy and Jobs Act.

And we have a Senate champion for the effort who will reintroduce the bill in the Senate, Senator Martin Heinrich from New Mexico.

We also saw the recognition of the importance of this program by the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, led by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur from Ohio, which included $2 billion in emergency funding in its fiscal year 2021 bill and the adoption of my amendment to add another $250 million to the program.

While we ultimately weren’t successful in maintaining these funds in the final funding agreement passed in December, it does set the stage for our efforts to reauthorize and fund this program for 2022.

Just this week, I reintroduced this bill, and I am pleased to have Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick from Pennsylvania as my co-lead along with Congressman Marc Veasey from Texas. It is great we are starting the new Congress with a true bipartisan bill.

My priority will be to get this bill included in any infrastructure, energy, or climate change package that moves. But to do this, I need your help to rally support among Democrats and Republicans

Several Republicans supported the Clean Economy and Jobs Act last year that included this bill, and it is my hope they will join me in this effort. I hope you will make it a priority to reach out to Congressmen Chris Smith, John Katko, Jeff Fortenberry, Don Bacon and Don Young and urge them to cosponsor.

And I hope you will reach out to those former local officials on both sides of the aisle and encourage them to join this effort. Remember, there are no Republican or Democratic potholes, just as there is no Republican or Democratic green future — it’s one we build together.

Again, I want to thank the U.S. Conference of Mayors for its support and endorsement of this legislation, which will be key to our efforts across the finish line.

It was great to be with you today, and I look forward to your questions.

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