A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest
FCNL Letter to Sen. Dorgan Requesting Funding for Weatherization Assistance ProgramJanuary 12, 2009
Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Chairman
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
186 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Dorgan,
As people of faith, we call on Congress to consider the needs of those most affected by the current economic crisis. Weatherization assistance not only helps to lower energy costs for low- and moderate-income households; by reducing carbon emissions, it also helps to protect God’s creation.
We write to request that you include enough money in the economic stimulus package to fund the Energy Department's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) at the minimum of $2 billion over the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years.
We support President-elect Obama's goal of weatherizing 1 million homes annually in future years. Although this funding increase will fully fund the authorization for WAP in fiscal years 2009 and 2010, appropriations will need to be ramped up in future years to meet the 1 million per year goal.
We hope you will ensure that as the program grows, it neither loses the technological capacity of the current program nor diminishes the depth of investment in homes to achieve the 1 million homes goal. We support an enhanced weatherization program that invests as much as is needed to capture all possible energy savings and carbon emission reductions in low- and moderate-income homes and that also serves many more homes with these retrofits than is the case today.
We agree there are many important projects to be considered in crafting a spending package to stimulate the depressed economy, including immediate help for the unemployed and undernourished. In that context, we also lift up the Weatherization Assistance Program as an ideal economic stimulus mechanism that will put people to work now, reduce low-income utility bills, and decrease carbon emissions.
WAP money creates green jobs now. Additional funding for WAP would be quickly spent through the existing WAP infrastructure. Funding WAP at $2 billion over the next two years would sustain more than 47,000 homebuilding industry jobs, an increase of about 75 percent from total current WAP employment. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates a $2.60 total economic return in energy and non-energy benefits per dollar invested in WAP; $2 billion invested would equal total benefits of $5.2 billion dollars, largely in low-income communities.
WAP saves low-income households money that can be spent on other necessities, including mortgage payments, which reduces foreclosures. In low-income households, energy costs account for an average of 16 percent of total income, a much larger proportion than the 5 percent spent by the average U.S. household. WAP services reduced low-income household energy costs by an average of $358 per year, saving a family money every year after a house is weatherized. In the winter of 2005 alone, $1.6 billion dollars were saved in all WAP weatherized homes.
WAP reduces the carbon emissions that cause climate change. The DOE estimates that weatherization has decreased domestic energy consumption by the equivalent of 18 million barrels of oil annually. Not only does burning less fossil fuel to heat our homes help address climate change, it reduces our dependence on imported oil. Additionally, it will help our global neighbors who are disproportionately impacted by climate change.
Finally, to accommodate President-elect Obama's stated goal of weatherizing 1 million homes annually, WAP authorization language in Section 422 of the Energy Conservation and Production Act (42 U.S.C. 6872) will need to be increased.
We urge you to fully fund the Energy Department's Weatherization Assistance Program at the minimum of $2 billion in the economic stimulus package for fiscal years 2009 and 2010, and to keep these funds available until expended.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.
Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee, Washington Office
Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Justice, Peace/Integrity of Creation Office
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Washington Office
For more information contact:
Devin Helfrich, Legislative Advocate
(202) 903-2520, Devin@fcnl.org