Congresswoman targets energy agency’s regulatory efforts via funding bill

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) secured several provisions in the Fiscal Year 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations Act in her efforts to rein in the Department of Energy (DOE).

The bill, which the House of Representatives approved on Friday in a 240-177 vote, includes an amendment submitted by Blackburn that would prevent the DOE from using any federal funds to design or enforce any proposed regulation that would prohibit the use of noncondensing natural gas home furnaces, forcing U.S. consumers to install condensing furnaces in their homes. Studies indicate that condensing furnaces cost several hundred dollars more than noncondensing furnaces and would require as much as $2,200 in additional installation costs.

“American families are struggling enough under the Obama economy without being saddled with additional costs because of more burdensome regulations being forced on them by bureaucrats at DOE,” Blackburn, the Energy and Commerce Committee vice chairwoman, said. “Home furnaces fail and need to be replaced when they are actually used — in the middle of winter when it is cold outside. American families shouldn’t face increased costs to replace their natural gas furnace and get the heat flowing back into their homes.”

Many influential organizations have taken notice of Blackburn’s amendment, offering their full endorsement, including the American Gas Association; American Public Gas Association; Indoor Environment and Energy Efficiency Association;  Air-Condition, Heating and Refrigeration Institute; Heating, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International; and the National Association of Home Builders.

Blackburn also worked with fellow Reps. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Todd Rokita (R-IN) to put forth an amendment to prevent any funds from being used by the DOE to implement its proposed “Standards for Ceiling Fans and Ceiling Fan Light Kits” rule.

“New regulations being considered by DOE will diminish the ability of ceiling-fan manufacturers, such as Hunter Fans in Memphis, to produce reasonably priced fans for homes,” she said. “This provision will protect manufacturers and consumers from these invasive regulations that extend into the homes of American families, raise costs for consumers, and kill the ability of manufacturers to grow and create jobs. I am pleased to once again be working with Representative Dent in this important effort to protect our homes and ceiling fans from the Obama administration’s regulatory overreach.”
Additionally, in an effort to rein in federal spending, Blackburn also submitted her 1 percent across-the-board spending-cut amendment.

“Across-the-board cuts are an effective tool to control the growth and cost of the federal government,” Blackburn said. “They not only give agencies the flexibility to determine which expenses are necessary, but more importantly — they don’t pick winners and losers. These cuts have worked effectively at the state level, and there is no reason not to utilize them in Washington. Our nation is more than $18 trillion in debt. At some point, bureaucrats in Washington have to learn to live within their means. I don’t think cutting one more penny on the dollar is too much to ask.”