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ASHRAE Government Affairs Update, 11/14/2014

Federal Activities

  • U.S. and China Make Joint Announcements for Climate Change Mitigation - Energy Efficiency Discussed
  • Congress Returns: Omnibus Appropriations, Tax Extenders, Defense, and Nominations
  • Keystone to be Voted on in the House Today, Senate Next Week - Implications for Efficiency Legislation Next Year
  • HUD Requests Recommendations to Update and Revise Their Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards

 

GGAC Regional and Chapter Activities

  • ASHRAE Falcon Chapter (Dubai, UAE) an Organizer of the 4th Regional Symposium on Alternative Refrigerants for High-Ambient Countries: Risk Assessment of Future Refrigerants in Production, Installation and Service
  • Arizona Corporation Commission Issues Draft Rules to Eliminate Energy Efficiency Programs
  • New Mexico's Construction Industries Commission Decision Challenged in Court

Federal Activities

For additional information on federal issues, please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE's Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at [email protected].

 

U.S. and China Make Joint Announcements for Climate Change Mitigation - Energy Efficiency Discussed

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in their respective countries. The U.S. plans to reduce its emissions by 26 to 28 percent below its 2005 level by 2025. China will seek to increase its share of non-fossil fuel primary energy consumption to approximately 20 percent by 2030, and begin reducing its CO2 emissions after cresting around the year 2030.

Energy efficiency in general, and in buildings specifically was mentioned in the Joint Announcement. For instance, the U.S. and China have established the Climate Change Working Group which addresses GHG data management, smart grid, energy efficiency, and other related initiatives. The Announcement also referenced the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, which focuses on collaboration in the areas of building energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage, and clean vehicles.

The Joint Announcement can be viewed here, and a White House blog post can be viewed here.

ASHRAE believes that it and its members have an important role to place in mitigating and adapting to climate change. Our Position Document on Climate Change can be viewed here (PDF). ASHRAE's Public Policy Issue Brief on Climate Change and Building Energy Efficiency can be found here (PDF).

 

Congress Returns: Omnibus Appropriations, Tax Extenders, Defense, and Nominations

The U.S. Congress has returned for its so-called "lame duck" session to a packed agenda with little time left before the end of the year, when the current (113th) Congress will end, and a new cycle will begin in January.

As a result of the elections, Democrats will only have control of the Senate through the end of the year, and thus one of their top priorities will be approving their preferred judicial and non-judicial nominees. While they can do this with little or no Republican support, Republicans have cautioned that pushing through too many nominees could result in retaliation next year.

Far from their only task, in addition to nominations, Congress will also have to approve legislation to fund the federal government, as the current continuing resolution (CR) expires on December 11. Congress could pass another short- or long-term CR, however it looks increasingly likely that several individual appropriations bills will be rolled-up into a mega omnibus bill. There are pros and cons to each approach. A CR will fund programs at their current levels, while an omnibus will contain much more detail, including funding increases and cuts for specific programs.

Legislation to temporarily extend several expired and expiring tax provisions is also on the table. Several of these provisions address energy efficiency, including the Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction (Section 179D), the New Energy-Efficient Homes Credit (Section 45L), and the Section 25L credit for energy efficiency improvements to existing homes. The main bill in play at this point is the Expiring Provisions Improvement, Reform, and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act, however this bill is considered a tough sell, in part because of its large price tag (over $80 billion), and also because some Members of Congress would like to see this bill discussed as part of larger tax reform efforts.

One of the only bills that will be enacted with near 100 percent certainty this year is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015, which addresses the programs and activities of the U.S. Department of Defense, including military construction. The NDAA is seen as one of the more bipartisan bills, and has been enacted into law for over 50 consecutive years.

For information on ASHRAE's interest and connection to the NDAA, please see a previous edition of the Update here.

 

Keystone to be Voted on in the House Today, Senate Next Week - Implications for Efficiency Legislation Next Year

The Keystone XL Pipeline will likely be voted on in the U.S. House today and in the Senate next week. While passage in both Chambers is expected (less so in the Senate), it is unclear whether President Obama will sign or veto the bill. This legislation is of interest to ASHRAE as Keystone was one of the issues that played a major role in the failure of the Senate to pass the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.2262), commonly known as "Shaheen-Portman".

ASHRAE is a strong supporter of Shaheen-Portman, which is widely considered to be one of the most significant energy efficiency bills in seven years. It appears unlikely at this point that Shaheen-Portman will be passed during the lame duck session of Congress, and will instead be taken up early next year. If the Keystone bill is not enacted into law, it may be offered as an amendment to Shaheen-Portman at a later date.

 

HUD Requests Recommendations to Update and Revise Their Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued a notice inviting interested persons to submit proposed changes to update and revise HUD's Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. These proposed changes will be submitted to the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee for review and consideration as part of its responsibility to provide periodic recommendations to HUD to adopt, revise, and interpret the HUD standards.

Additional information is available here.

 

GGAC Regional and Chapter Activities

For additional information on state, local, and international government affairs, please contact Jim Scarborough, ASHRAE's Manager of Grassroots Government Affairs, at [email protected].

 

ASHRAE Falcon Chapter (Dubai, UAE) an Organizer of the 4th Regional Symposium on Alternative Refrigerants for High-Ambient Countries: Risk Assessment of Future Refrigerants in Production, Installation and Service

The 4th Regional Symposium on Alternative Refrigerants for High-Ambient Countries: Risk Assessment of Future Refrigerants in Production, Installation and Service was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) on October 28-29. Over the last three years the government of the UAE and UNEP, in cooperation with regional and international partners including ASHRAE, have organized this specialized technical level event to address the concern of refrigerant alternatives for the air-conditioning industry in high ambient climates. This year's event introduced a new dimension to the issue of high-ambience in parallel to those introduced previously, based on feedback received from industry and governments while implementing several phase-out projects as well as implementing the UNEP/UNIDO project for promoting low-GWP alternatives in high-ambient countries. Dr. Ahmed Alaa Eldin Mohamed, ASHRAE Grassroots Government Activities Committee (GGAC) Regional Vice Chair for the Region-At-Large, participated in this event as a panelist for the Concluding Session entitled "Policy and Technical Measures for Consideration by Industry and Governments to Promote Future Refrigerants".  

 

Arizona Corporation Commission Issues Draft Rules to Eliminate Energy Efficiency Programs

The Arizona Corporation Commission, which has jurisdiction over the quality of service and rates charged by public service utilities, issued draft rules on November 4, 2014 that would greatly reduce or eliminate the requirements for utilities to meet a portion of their energy demand through efficiency programs that reduce consumption. The Energy Efficiency Standards, which would require utilities to achieve 22 percent electricity energy savings for utility customers by 2020, has been in place only since 2010 and was passed by a 5-0 vote of the Commission at that time. According to information compiled by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, these standards have saved consumers over $500 million on utility costs since they were implemented. 

To offer public comment on the proposed changes, which must be done no later than November 18, go to http://www.azcc.gov/Divisions/Utilities/forms/CommentForm.htm and reference Docket No. E-00000XX-13-0214.

 

New Mexico's Construction Industries Commission Decision Challenged in Court

Energy efficiency advocates are asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to review a state Court of Appeals decision in September that allowed a repeal of new energy efficiency requirement for residential and commercial buildings in New Mexico's green building code. The current codes, in effect since 2010, required new construction to be 20 percent more energy efficient than the previous codes. The Construction Industries Commission repealed the new code after Governor Susana Martinez was elected and appointed new people to the commission. For more information please click here

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