The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, praised the introduction of the bipartisan Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act (S. 600) in Congress.

Originally introduced in the United States Senate by Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act will establish a new pilot program at the U.S. Department of Energy to provide financial grants to nonprofit organizations to help them make buildings they own and operate more energy-efficient. Additional original cosponsors of the bill are Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), James Risch (R-ID), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

The Act will enable America’s schools, youth centers, houses of worship, hospitals, YMCAs, museums, etc., to reduce their operating costs, lessen impact on the environment, and bolster America’s energy independence. Under the proposal, nonprofits could apply for grants up to 50 percent of the total cost of the energy efficiency program for their buildings–up to $200,000.

Nathan Diament, executive director of OU Advocacy, the nonpartisan public policy arm of the Orthodox Union, issued the following statement:

“The Environmental Protection Agency, based on its “Green Congregations” project, estimates that houses of worship across the country could cut their energy use–and costs–by one-third through energy-efficiency improvements. If America’s houses of worship cut their energy use by just 10 percent, the EPA estimates that would save $1.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and 1.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the emissions of 240,000 cars. This is why we at the OU Advocacy Center developed this proposal together with our Senate champions and are eager to see it pass.

“The energy efficiency grants program is critical for nonprofit organizations, because it would help them overcome the hurdle of the front-end costs for these often very expensive projects. Helping nonprofits become energy-efficient would benefit the environment and the economy and make us better stewards of the earth,” Diament added.

The Orthodox Union is working with its Congressional allies and spearheading a broad coalition of support to encourage the passage of this bill. The coalition currently includes the YMCA Association, the National Council of Churches, Jewish Federations of North America, Association of American Museum Directors, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Sojourners.


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