OU Praises House on Passage of Historic Climate Change Legislation

29 Jun 2009

Today, the Orthodox Union, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, congratulated the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454), a multi-billion set of spending and regulatory programs to reduce energy costs, create jobs, and aid the environment, and applauded the inclusion of faith-based properties in the Act’s building retrofit program designed to provide subsidies of up to 50 percent of the cost of retrofitting a building’s energy systems – with funding dependent on the level of demonstrated energy use reduction.

The OU is pleased that based on our discussions with Chairman Waxman, Subcommittee Chairman Markey and other key offices, the legislation includes faith-based and other non-profits in this retrofit program and we applaud Representatives Waxman and Markey for this important provision.

In March, the Committee released a discussion draft of the legislation providing energy retrofits for residential and commercial buildings while neglecting non-profits. The Orthodox Union – with the support of key partners from the non-profit sector – brought this omission to the attention of Committee staff citing the nearly half a million houses of worship throughout the United States, and specific cases within the Orthodox community, that could benefit from this program. Thanks to our coalition partners in the faith-based community, the bill’s drafters agreed that amending the language would expand the goals of this program by allowing full participation. While many non-profits will still face a cost hurdle with only a 50% subsidy, this new language begins to addresses the concerns of the Orthodox Union and our partners in a very clear way.

Nathan Diament, director of public policy for the Orthodox Union stated:

“We are very pleased that the House of Representatives chose to address the concerns of the Orthodox Union and our coalition partners. If finally enacted, this legislation will provide needed resources to implement energy improvements in our synagogues and schools. From new heating and air conditioning systems to lighting and windows, this legislation will assist our communal institutions to save costs, reduce energy use, and aid the environment. All of this has been proposed and passed in a way completely consistent with Constitutional principles. As the legislation moves to the Senate we will continue to advocate for our community to enhance the program’s level of support for non-profits.”