Ohio’s energy future a balancing act of production, usage

A real energy plan for America can help bring back jobs, turn around our trade deficit and spark an American manufacturing renaissance. It starts with an all-of-the-above strategy, including an aggressive plan to take advantage of America’s abundant resources and innovative technology in Ohio and around the country. But it also includes much more efficient use of the energy resources we have. We should produce more and use less.

Through energy efficiency we can increase our industrial competitiveness on the world stage and to strengthen our energy security for decades to come. Washington can seem pretty divided these days, but we should be able to agree on making our economy more energy efficient. That’s why I am joining with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, the Democratic senator from New Hampshire, to introduce the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act.

Bipartisan support

This bill is proof that good energy policy can be good economic policy as well. Our legislation has broad, bipartisan support from businesses, labor, energy and environment advocates alike. It will cut costs for American companies while helping us make better use of our abundant domestic energy resources. It will help to make our nation energy secure, and it will cut our dependence on foreign energy resources. It will drive economic growth and encourage private sector job creation. It will help America to compete in increasingly global markets.

That’s good news for us in Ohio. In our state, we know a thing or two about competing on the global stage. We are the fourth largest manufacturing state in the country and a lot of what we make we export — $48 billion worth in 2012 alone. Every day, Ohio businesses go up against companies in countries where the cost to produce goods is lower. We are never going to compete on wages in developing countries, and we wouldn’t want to. We’re also not going to cut corners and compromise the high quality of the goods we produce. But what we can do is make it easier for employers to use energy efficient tools that reduce their costs, enabling them to put those savings toward expanding their companies and hiring new workers. That’s why Ohio job creators — from ABM Energy in Columbus, to Owens-Illinois in Toledo and RPM in Cleveland — support this legislation.

Commonsense reforms

The proposals contained in our bill are common-sense reforms that we’ve needed for a long time. We’re going to strengthen our buildings codes to make new homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient. At the same time, we are going to make those codes and the code-writing process more transparent. We’re going to require the Department of Energy to work more closely with the private-sector to both utilize our existent technology and spur research and development of new, practical energy-efficient techniques. And we are going to make Washington, D.C. practice what it preaches. We’re going to make the federal government — the largest energy user in the country — adopt energy saving techniques that make their operations more efficient and save taxpayer dollars. The government has been looking for places to tighten its belt; energy efficiency is a good place to start.

All this adds up to a piece of legislation that Americans across the spectrum can support. This bill makes good environmental sense. It makes good energy sense. And it makes good business sense, too.

We originally introduced this bill last year. In the midst of one of the most contentious elections I’ve ever seen, we were able to make great strides in both chambers of Congress. Some of the original legislation’s provisions have already become law. Now it’s time to finish the job.

Wasteful practices

Let’s stop spending taxpayer dollars on wasteful energy practices. Let’s create more jobs here at home by making our manufacturers more competitive on the world stage. Let’s make our nation more energy secure. The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act is an important part of a national energy plan to get America back on track.

Rob Portman, a Republican and Ohio’s junior U.S. senator, will be at the energy jobs fair next Monday at the Boardman Holiday Inn. The event is co-spnosred by the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and Portman.

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