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Pallone, Piscataway officials stress need to combat climate change in NJ

May 1, 2019
In The News

PISCATAWAY - During a visit to the township on Monday, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th District, state Sen. Bob Smith, D-17th District, and Mayor Brian Wahler touted the need to pass legislation to authorize funding for state and local energy efficiency and conservation programs to help reduce the effects of climate change in the state.  

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program was first authorized in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. The program has provided funding to state, local and tribal governments to undertake projects to reduce energy use, to diversify energy supplies, improve air quality and the environment. The program was initially authorized at $2 billion per year for five years beginning in 2008. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included $3.5 billion for this program, according to a news release. 

The program has not received any additional appropriated funds since 2009. Pallone and his Committee hope to change that.

Earlier this month, Pallone’s Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on numerous energy efficiency bills, including H.R. 2088, which would reauthorize the program to provide $3.5 billion annually from 2021 to 2025, according to the release. 

“The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program is an important step toward combating climate change in a way that also grows our local economy,” Pallone said. “Energy efficiency and conservation funding would help create good paying jobs, save consumers money on their energy bills, and reduce carbon pollution all at once. This program was a success, and we must restore this funding in order to give state and local governments the resources they need to reduce our energy usage and lower our carbon footprint. I thank Mayor Wahler and Senator Smith for their leadership on this important issue and look forward to continued cooperation between federal and local leaders.”

Pallone toured the roof of the Piscataway Public Works building with Wahler, Smith and four members of the Piscataway Township Council. The township received more than $500,000 from the block grant program in 2011 to install solar panels on the roofs of public works buildings.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, of which Wahler is a leader, supports bringing back the block grant energy efficiency program. In 2014, the U.S. Conference of Mayors published the results of their survey of more than 200 mayors whose cities participated in the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program when funds were appropriated in 2009. With these funds, state and local governments pursued a wide range of projects including energy retrofits of government buildings, deployment of LED street lighting, deployment of solar energy systems on public buildings, revision of building codes to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy and installation of EV charging and alternative fuel pumps.  

“Piscataway Township is incredibly fortunate to have a dedicated partner and strong advocate of protecting the environment in our local voice on Capitol Hill, Representative Frank Pallone Jr.,” Wahler said. “Our strong priorities of having a cleaner and greener future is shared by this long-time champion of energy efficiency and many other proactive initiatives.”

Smith, who lives in Piscataway and is chairman of the Energy and Environment Committee, has been a leader in promoting energy efficiency at the state level, the release stated.