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Ms. HIRONO. Madam Chair, I rise to support the Tonko-Bishop-Hirono-Welch amendment. This amendment would increase the funding for the State Energy Program and the Weatherization Assistance Program.
The bill before us slices the State Energy Program in half, from $50 million to $25 million. I'm not sure what the justification for this is. This program is effective and we should continue to support it. In fact, each dollar invested through the State Energy Program translates into $7.23 of savings on energy costs. It also helps to leverage State and local funds for bigger impacts.
Hawaii has utilized this funding for a variety of beneficial activities. It has been used to support expanded clean vehicle infrastructure, more energy-efficient buildings, and other purposes.
This amendment also invests in the Weatherization Assistance Program. This program helps the elderly, disabled, and low-income families benefit from energy efficiency upgrades.
Most folks think of helping weatherize homes against cold weather, and certainly that's one of the key benefits of this program. In warm Hawaii, which has the highest energy costs in the country, we also use in program. We help our families weatherize by installing money-saving things like energy-efficient water heaters or insulating existing water heaters. Since 2009, at least 800 homes in Hawaii have been able to improve energy efficiency through this program. A modest beginning, but more, of course, needs to be done. This has helped to create jobs and give families the benefit of increased energy efficiency.
I recognize the hard decisions that are made in this bill, but these programs that we just talked about may seem small but represent big savings for families all across our country, and, in fact, it will save our country money over the long term.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.
I yield back the balance of my time.
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