Local Officials Show Support for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program

Article excerpt

NLC presented key senators last week with the signatures of nearly 400 local officials from 46 states in support of funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program. In a meeting with Sena Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), NLC officials displayed 400 energy-efficient light bulbs representing the innovative work already occurring in cities and towns across the country to advance energy conservation.

"Funding for the program will enable local officials to take new actions or build on the many existing approaches leading toward greater energy independence and security," said NLC President Cynthia McCollum, councilmember, Madison, Ala., during the presentation ceremony on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. "The light bulbs represent one example of the kind of partnerships cities and towns can forge with local businesses and nonprofits under the provisions of the grant program."

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Seven of NLC's Corporate Partners also expressed their support for funding for the block grant program by delivering a joint letter at the event. "As corporate leaders, we understand that funding for cities to implement innovative energy efficiency and conservation programs will benefit both the local and national economy, and thereby strengthen the communities in which we live," said Richard Leadbeater, ESRI, and chair of NLC's Corporate Partners Leadership Council.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., donated the light bulbs as part of their commitment to energy conservation. NLC plans to give the bulbs to the Newark, N.J., Housing Authority.

Securing full funding for the block grant is a top legislative priority for NLC and the nation's cities and towns. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 authorized $2 billion annually for the newly created Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program.

"Municipal governments can have considerable influence over greenhouse gas emissions," McCollum said. "Cities are already taking action to save money, promote new jobs, reduce waste and support new technology. "Funding from the grant can help cities and towns leverage more dollars from other sources to help solve what is a national problem. This will enable us all to preserve our natural resources for future generations."

In a letter delivered to the chairs and members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, McCollum and nearly 400 local officials urged support for a supplemental appropriation for FY08 as well as full funding for FY09. …