8:40 PM EDT
David Wu, D-OR 1st

Mr. WU. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to urge my colleagues to support my commonsense amendment to save consumers significant costs in heating and cooling their homes and businesses. I am joined by my colleagues Don Young of Alaska, Charles Bass of New Hampshire, and Paul Tonko of New York in this bipartisan, commonsense amendment.

Now, it's important because buildings use more energy than either transportation or industry. Fully 40 percent of our energy is consumed by building systems and in homes. My friend Paul Tonko cited the figure that 70 percent of electricity in America is used in buildings.

At a time of both record energy costs and record unemployment, we need to protect Americans from crushing energy costs by improving the efficiency of existing and new buildings and homes. It's not just an issue for cold weather regions like the State of one of my cosponsors, Representative Young of Alaska. It's also an issue for hot climates like what we have here in Washington, DC. Even at this late hour, at [Page: H4845]

8:30 p.m., you can just about hear

the air conditioning straining to keep it cool in this Chamber. The cost for air conditioning the U.S. Capitol is a fortune. It is also very costly at my 13-foot-wide townhouse near the Capitol, and, of course, heating cost is a big issue in my home in Oregon.

The Building Technologies Program reduces the cost of operating homes and buildings by fostering public-private partnerships and developing technologies, techniques, and tools for making homes and businesses more affordable, productive, and efficient.

According to the Department of Energy, the Building Technologies Program has resulted in fully $14 billion of direct savings to the consumer, savings that have been reinvested in local economies. Additionally, since its founding 20 years ago, the Building Technologies Program has saved the equivalent of over 12 billion gallons of gasoline.

This amendment would return the Building Technologies Program to just its current fiscal year 2011 funding level. This amendment will cost nothing extra because it is fully offset by taking funds from the Office of the Secretary.

According to the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee report, ``a significant fraction of the funding directed in prior appropriations reports to specified energy efficiency and renewable energy activities has been diverted by department management to other purposes in recent years. In some cases, as much as 12 percent of the funding directed by the Congress for this activity has been diverted.''

The offset for this amendment will simply return the funds to the Building Technologies Program as intended by this Congress. This, my colleagues, is low-hanging fruit, and we should pick it.

I want to thank my colleagues Don Young, Charles Bass, and Paul Tonko for their joint sponsorship.

I urge passage of this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.