Should the federal government force Americans to use less energy?
Congress is considering legislation that would require residential and commercial buildings to be 50 percent more energy-efficient within the next five to six years. Those account for about 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption, the most of any sector. Building standards have traditionally been the purview of local governments, but a new coalition of business, electric industry, and consumer and environmental groups is pushing for national action.
Meanwhile, President Obama recently announced a federal lighting standard aimed at cutting the amount of electricity used by certain industrial light bulbs. He also dedicated $346 million in stimulus funds to boost energy efficiency in new and existing homes and commercial buildings.
Should Washington mandate tougher energy standards for appliances, equipment and buildings? Or can industry and consumers take sufficient energy efficiency actions on their own?