Sanders Says More Must Be Done for the Environment

Article excerpt

"What Congress has done is to take an important step forward, but much, much more needs to be done," said Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) in addressing delegates at the Congressional City Conference on the recently enacted Energy Independence and Security Act.

Congress has begun to take a hard look at the crisis of global warming and the need to move the nation away from fossil fuels into energy efficiency and sustainable energy, said the senator, who serves on both the Energy and Natural Resources and Environment and Public Works committees.

Now, the former Burlington mayor said, the local officials who worked for its passage must help to see that it is fully funded.

The act contains major provisions giving cities and towns federal support to deal with global warming and environmental degradation.

One, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, which is modeled on the Community Development Block Grant, provides local governments funds to invest in technologies and approaches that protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Cities can develop programs to make public buildings or homes more energy efficient, or can install technologies like wind turbines, Sanders said.

They can replace traffic signals and street lights with energy efficient technologies and exchange conventional vehicles for hybrid or electric cars or use funds for mass transit.

A portion of the monies is reserved for competitive grants for cities with populations of less than 35,000.

A second provision is a "green" jobs training program. "We have tremendous opportunity to grow our economy with good-paying jobs if we can train a skilled work force in energy efficiency and sustainable energy," the senator said.

He noted that firms that install portable gas heaters and wind turbines have difficulty finding and retaining skilled workers.

A third, smaller provision, provides funds to colleges and universities to help them "go green" and publicize their activities. …