The boundaries of power of the United States government are constantly being pushed. As technology advances, it is becoming increasingly easier to use energy efficiently. The government has the power and is justified to promote energy efficiency.
There are multiple ways the government can “nudge” citizens in efficient directions. Experts believe internalizing energy costs, changing the tax structure, and informing the public could all help. The government is implementing some measures to increase energy efficiency despite opposition.
The Senate struck down an energy bill in 2014. It was meant to provide mandates that would improve building efficiency. If passed, it would have been the first major energy legislation since 2007.
President Obama responded to the bill’s failure by promoting the Better Buildings Challenge. This initiative commits participants to cutting energy usage by 20% by 2020. Companies such as Wal-Mart, General Mills, Volvo, and Wholefoods pledged to reach this goal.
Obama also pushed for eco-friendly legislation, an on-going battle that continues in the bipartisan government.
“President Obama is committed to taking responsible steps to address climate change, promote clean energy and energy efficiency, drive innovation, and ensure a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations,” the Obama Administration released in a press statement in August 2015. This press statement went on to outline what his steps entail.
His policies promote the implementation of energy-efficient technologies in low-income housing. They toughen mileage rules on cars and trucks. Energy-efficient standards for appliances were strengthened and new loans boosted green energy sources.
Most recently, the Obama administration halted new leases for coal mining on federal lands. The EPA has also released new regulation to stem carbon pollution from power plants.
These regulations have hit home in some states more than others.
Democrat presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have expressed their agreement with these policies.
Not everyone is as happy though. “The president’s policies have already ravaged coal country, destroying jobs and people’s way of life, and this will increase that suffering,” House Speaker Paul Ryan responded to the new coal policy.
Critics state that regulation and policy reform is not necessary. The cost of energy itself should provide incentive for choosing energy efficient options. However, many believe efficiency must be regulated because people won’t always make the smartest choice.
The Supreme Court will assess one of the Obama administration regulations for constitutionality. The regulation deals with electrical grid operators paying customers to reduce consumption at peak times. The judges will come out with their decision by June 2016.
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