On Earth Day, Rep. Huffman Introduces Bills to Make America Greener
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today recognized Earth Day by introducing two bills designed to combat climate change and save money. The bills, the Federal Leadership in Energy Efficient Transportation (FLEET) Act of 2015 and the Investing for Tomorrow’s Schools Act of 2015, address the urgent need to make American transportation and building infrastructure greener and more efficient.
“Each Earth Day, people across the country and around the world pledge themselves to becoming better stewards of our planet. It’s time that Congress learns from their example and joins the fight against climate change, the biggest single problem facing our planet and future,” Huffman said. “By working constructively with these American institutions—public schools and the U.S. Postal Service—we can reduce energy use, modernize our infrastructure, and fight climate change—together.”
The Federal Leadership in Energy Efficient Transportation (FLEET) Act, cosponsored by Congressman Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11) and Congressman Mark Takai (HI-01), would require the USPS to reduce their petroleum consumption by 2% each year over the next 10 years. This Act will reduce expenditures on petroleum fuel and maintenance, and sets benchmarks to make the USPS fleet a global leader in efficiency and innovation. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, implementation of the FLEET Act would save the Postal Service an estimated 150 million gallons of fuel over the next ten years—about $350 million in cost savings.
The Postal Service owns and operates the world’s largest civilian vehicle fleet: 192,000 mail delivery vehicles that are driven 4.3 million miles per day. More than 141,000 are aging Grumman LLVs, which average only 10 miles per gallon. This vehicle first entered service in 1987, and the majority have reached the end of their 24-year operational lifespan. Fueling these vehicles comes at a high cost: in FY 2010, the petroleum fuel bill for all postal transportation totaled $1.7 billion. And, since 2005, the Postal Service has marked a 6.4% increase in petroleum use.
Investing for Tomorrow’s Schools Act:
The Investing for Tomorrow’s Schools Act would allow state infrastructure banks to make loans for projects to repair school facilities, make energy efficiency improvements, install broadband internet infrastructure, among others.
Each year, K-12 schools spend more than $12 billion annually on energy, making energy the second highest operating expenditure for schools after personnel costs. According to the Center for Green Schools, green schools use 33% less energy and 32% less water than conventionally constructed schools, on average. The typical green school saves $100,000 per year on operating costs; enough to hire at least one new teacher, buy 200 new computers, or purchase 5,000 textbooks.
Huffman’s bill requires borrowers to use green construction or renovation practices that are consistent with: (1) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating standards, (2) the Living Building Challenge, (3) the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), or (4) a state equivalent that has equivalent or higher standards.
Versions of the FLEET Act and the Investing for Tomorrow’s Schools Act were previously introduced in the 113th Congress. In the 114th Congress, Huffman serves as the ranking member of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans, and is a leading advocate for environmental protections in Congress.
Congressman Huffman introduced bipartisan legislation to protect one of America’s last untouched wild places—the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the north coast of Alaska. The Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act (H.R. 239) would designate the 1.5 million-acre Coastal Plain as wilderness, codifying into law permanent protections from damaging activities like oil drilling.
Preventing Public Financing of Dirty Energy Projects:
This January, Huffman reintroduced a bill to prevent the United States Export-Import bank—one of the world’s largest sources of public financing for fossil fuel projects—from financing polluting energy projects. Since 2007, the Export-Import Bank provided more than $7.2 billion in financing for coal-fired power plants around the world—all backed by American taxpayer dollars. Huffman’s bill would end all subsidies for dirty energy projects that do not comply with greenhouse gas standards developed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
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