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Hearing Of The House Committee On Veterans' Affairs - Energy Efficiency At The U.S. Department Of Veterans Affairs

Location: Washington, DC

Opening Statement of Hon. Bob Filner, Chairman, Full Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Good morning. I would like to thank everyone for attending the hearing today. The VA is the 6th highest agency user in energy consumption intensity and the 3rd highest agency in water consumption making its footprint significant and its efforts to be in the forefront on conservation and reduction commendable.

As federal agencies, I firmly believe that responsibility to the public is a must, and that we--as lawmakers and executors of the federal government - must set the example in energy, water and fuel conservation, with the hopes of having corporate and mainstream America follow.

I am pleased that the VA has reported to our Committee that it is taking extraordinary efforts to not only meet the goals of the Executive Order, but exceed them.

For as much as the VA is accomplishing, I am equally curious to hear what our panel of industry experts have to say about the VA's progress. I believe the experts we will hear from today will add great value to this dialogue and make thoughtful recommendations on the way ahead.

The VA was allocated $405 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to accelerate critical programs to reduce the environmental footprint of the department. The VA set some very aggressive goals in this arena.

I am eager to hear how it plans to execute and sustain these goals of reduction in energy, water and fuel usage while building and renovating sustainable buildings and utilizing this $405 million to its maximum potential.

The Committee will continue to monitor VA actions as it works to increase energy efficiency and provide results for our veterans and taxpayers.

While I applaud the VA's efforts to go green, I think it's imperative that we not forget the most important mission of the VA and that is caring for veterans. We need to ensure that the very specific needs of our veterans are being met at hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes, and make certain their care is not degraded or impacted by the efforts in becoming more energy efficient.

Now is not the time to lose focus on the larger goal of providing world class health care for veterans, but the time to balance the many initiatives necessary to transform the VA into a 21st century organization.

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