The 11th Congressional session is the current session that started the last few weeks of President George Bush's administration and will continue for the first two years of President Barack Obama's administration. Below are some legislative topics and victories already pursued by HPBA.
|The American Clean Energy Act||Best-in-Class Deployment Program|
|American Reweable Biomass Heating Act||Renewable Energy Alternative Production Act (REAP)|
|Thermal Energy Efficiency||Fuel-Efficient Stoves|
|Thermal Energy Act|
The U.S. House of Representatives squeaked out an historic legislative victory on June 26, 2009 when the House voted, 219-212, to approve a comprehensive global warming bill that sets mandatory limits on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. With such a narrow margin of victory, this legislation will change in the upcoming months as the U.S. Senate considers the bill.
A record 224 amendments were filed with the House Rules Committee to be considered for the climate change bill. Only one amendment, a Republican alternative, was considered and summarily defeated. Unfortunately, an amendment by Representative Carol Shea-Porter, which HPBA strongly supported and would have created a program to provide zero-interest or very low-interest loans to homeowners to convert their current home heating or hot water systems to a renewable fueled product, including wood and wood pellets, was not ruled "in order" and therefore never considered. We will work to advance this legislative language in the future.
Included in this legislation are other provisions that are important to HPBA and PFI. The first is a federal wood stove changeout program. This provision would AUTHORIZE (not fund) a federal wood stove changeout program to be managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The language authorizes the expenditure of $20 million over five years, with a funding breakdown of 72% for national changeout programs, 25% Tribal programs, and 3% Alaskan Native Villages programs. The drive for congressional introduction of this changeout legislation was in large part a result of the Capitol Hill visits conducted during the 2009 Government Affairs Academy in Arlington, Virginia.
Another item important to HPBA is a provision that would establish a 'Best-in-Class Appliances Deployment Program' to provide:
- Bonus payments to retailers or distributors for sales of best-in-class high-efficiency household appliance models, high-efficiency installed building equipment, and high-efficiency consumer electronics, with the goal of reducing life-cycle costs for consumers, encouraging innovation, and maximizing energy savings and public benefit;
- Bounties to retailers for the replacement, retirement, and recycling of old, inefficient, and environmentally harmful products; and
- Premium awards to manufacturers for developing and producing new super-efficient Best-in-Class Products.
Also, the definition of biomass was expanded to include materials, precommercial thinnings, or removed invasive species from National Forest System land and public lands, including those byproducts of preventive treatments (such as trees, wood, brush, thinnings, chips, and slash), that are removed as part of a federally recognized timber sale, that are removed to reduce hazardous fuels, that are removed to reduce or contain disease or insect infestation, or that are removed to restore ecosystem health. However, this biomass can not come from components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, Wilderness Study Areas, Inventoried Roadless Areas, old growth stands, late successional stands (except for dead, severely damaged, or badly infested trees), components of the National Landscape Conservation System, National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Designated Primitive Areas, or Wild and Scenic Rivers corridors; and has to be harvested in environmentally sustainable quantities and in accordance with Federal and State law, and applicable land management plans.
Our efforts will now focus on the Senate to advocate keeping these programs in the final version of this legislation that will benefit our industry. Please keep in mind that this legislation could drastically change in the upcoming months and is far from being enacted into law. As always, we will send updates and calls to action as needed.
Establishs the Best-in-Class Appliances Deployment Program to reward retailers for increasing the sales of high-efficiency installed building equipment, consumer electronics, and household appliance models, with the goal of reducing life-cycle costs for consumers, encouraging innovation, and maximizing energy savings.
H.R. 2080 - the American Renewable Biomass Heating Act, Sponsored by Representative Paul Hodes (D-NH)
Amends the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) extend through 2013 the tax credit for nonbusiness energy property; (2) expand the definition of energy-efficient building property for purposes of such credit to include boilers and furnaces; and (3) increase the limit on such credit in 2009 and 2010 from $1,500 to $6,000.
S. 1094 - the Renewable Energy Alternative Production Act, REAP Act, Sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow: (1) a new tax credit for the production of non-electric energy from renewable resources; (2) an energy tax credit for investment in property used to replace non-electric energy at the production site for such energy; and (3) new clean renewable energy bond financing for renewable non-electric energy production property.
Improves thermal energy efficiency and use.
Directs the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to carry out a pilot program to promote the production and use of fuel-efficient stoves engineered to produce significantly less black carbon than traditional stoves.
S. 1643, the Cleaner, Secure, and Affordable Thermal Energy Act - Sponsored by U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Amends the Internal Revenue Code to: (1) allow a tax credit for residential energy property expenditures to convert a home heating system using oil fuel to a system using natural gas boilers and furnaces and biomass heating appliances; (2) allow bonus depreciation of property used to convert a home heating system; (3) allow the use of tax-exempt energy conservation bonds to finance conversions of fuel oil heating systems; and (4) extend through 2012 accelerated depreciation for natural gas distribution facilities.