Senators look to increase energy efficiency in bipartisan effort

The United States Congress has not passed any sort of major energy legislation since 2007. This fact is shameful, but two senators, Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), are looking to change the tide on the country's energy efficiency issues. Their bill, officially called the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness act, but unofficially known as Shaheen-Portman, is an increasingly rare instance of members from the two parties coming together to find a common solution for a growing problem.

The bill aims to strengthen the energy codes for residential homes and commercial buildings, while also requiring the federal government to use energy efficient building materials and techniques in its own buildings. The proposed law has received broad support from citizens and interest groups, with over 200 diverse organizations backing the legislation for passage through the two chambers of Congress. There is also a sense that the bill needs to be passed soon, because in a 2012 report the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy found that out of the 12 largest economies in the world, the United States ranked a pathetic 9th place for energy efficiency.

Despite the broad support of the Shaheen-Portman bill, there is a very small possibility that the legislation will make it through the senate, at least by the end of 2013. News in recent days has been dominated by the compromise between Democrats and Republicans in reaching a financial agreement, one that would avert another partial government shutdown in January. As Congress is set to adjourn for the year by the end of this week, many in Washington are not betting on the proposed law even making it to the floor for a debate.

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