Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives managed to marshall barely enough votes among their own to pass a bill that would impose a new regulatory apparatus of the Department of Energy upon businesses ranging from electricty generation to home building to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gasses.
The bill squeaked throught the Democrat-dominated House with few votes to spare, 219-212, after a last-minute push from the Democrat leadership and President Barack Obama. Its future is uncertain in the Senate, where Republicans and some Democrats have said the bill will increase energy costs for all and do little to combat global warming.
The bill would immediately impose new standards on the home building industry, calling for an immediate 30% increase in energy efficiency that would rise to 50% by 2014. It would also impose penalties on builders and home owners who fail to meet the standards and give vast new authority to the Cabinet-level of Secretary of Energy, a political appointee. The National Association of Home Builders opposed the bill and issued a statement criticizing its passage Friday evening.
Of the requirements in the bill, NAHB Chairman, Joe Robson, a builder and developer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said, "That's simply too far, too fast. The market is not geared up to supply the necessary materials and equipment, and that's going to drive up costs."