October is National Energy Awareness Month. There have been a host of related programs this month as can be seen on the White House website. You might not have been aware of this from watching the presidential debate since neither President Obama or Governor Romney mentioned it specifically. But if you saw the debate it became very clear how important energy is to voters and apparently to both candidates.
The threat of $4.00 per gallon gas prices in New York City prompted the questions and a elicited rather heated exchanges between the debaters. There are already many blog posts and comments from pundits on who won the discussion and where facts and fictions were presented (see Fact Check.org for more info.) Unfortunately, we believe both the president and the governor lost the real opportunity to embrace one of the key strategies to energy independence. Neither embraced the opportunity to mention how important creating more energy efficient houses are to controlling energy consumption and overall energy costs.
The President could have touted the ill-fated Home Star Bill that passed the House on a bipartisan vote (246-161), had the support of a diverse list of organizations (The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers to name just a few) and ultimately died, as most other important legislation over the past few years has, in the Senate. It was a major step in the direction of energy policy that could have resulted in real-time energy efficiency rather than more sexy things like wind and solar.
The Governor, with his mantra on a five-step program to create jobs, could have embraced an appeal for reviving at least the concept of the Home Star Bill. Independent analysis predicted it would create 168,000 jobs in the hard hit housing sector.
Clearly, both not only failed to mention National Energy Awareness Month but more importantly missed touting one of the easiest ways to create new jobs, improve energy efficiency, reduce home energy bills (which account for at least as big a percentage of most household income as gasoline) and cut CO2 emissions to boot.
Perhaps, post the election and glare of the deficit crisis spotlight, the winner will seriously consider a renewed interest in legislation to retrofit the millions and millions of homes and buildings known to be under insulated in the U.S. Fixing that problem with some meaningful stimulus to create jobs and save energy would go a long way toward the goals espoused by both candidates during this heated debate.