FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Maury Litwack
May 18, 2009
UNION OF ORTHODOX JEWISH CONGREGATIONS APPLAUDS NON-PROFIT INCLUSION IN WAXMAN/MARKEY ENERGY LEGISLATION
Pending Bill Addresses Previous OU Concerns, Treats Faith and Non-Profits Fairly
Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee began marking-up 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. A key component of this legislation is a building retrofit program designed to provide subsidies of up to 50% of the cost of retrofitting a building’s energy systems – with funding dependent on the level of demonstrated energy use reduction.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, is pleased that based on our discussions with Chairman Waxman, Subcommittee Chairman Markey and other key offices, the legislation includes non-profits and houses of worship in this retrofit program and we applaud Representatives Waxman and Markey for this important clarification.
On March 31, 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 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 pleased that the Committee chose to address the concerns of the Orthodox Union and our coalition partners. If 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. As the Committee marks-up this legislation we will continue to advocate for our community to enhance the program’s level of support for non-profits.