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Mr. PRYOR. I thank the Senator from Alabama for his question. In an effort to encourage energy efficiency compliance, reduce regulatory burdens, and save taxpayer dollars, the Sessions-Pryor amendment would require the Department of Energy to recognize voluntary certification programs for air conditioning, furnace, boiler, heat pump, and water heater products. Federal law requires these heating, cooling, and water heater products to comply with a complex set of Federal energy conservation and efficiency standards. Similar specifications apply to participants in the Energy Star program. The Energy Department currently spends millions of taxpayer dollars annually to conduct verification testing of these covered products. At the same time, U.S. manufacturers of these covered products spend millions of dollars themselves to participate in comprehensive voluntary certification programs that use independent, third-party laboratories to ensure compliance with applicable standards. Our amendment would require the Energy Department, when conducting routine testing to verify product ratings, to rely on data submitted through voluntary, independent certification programs that meet the robust list of criteria set forth in the amendment. To qualify, the voluntary certification program must be (among other things) nationally-recognized, maintain a publicly available list of certified models, and conduct verification testing on at least 20 percent of the product families using an ``independent third-party test laboratory.'' The amendment would require the Energy Department to reduce regulatory burdens for manufacturers participating in a voluntary certification program, as well as require testing of products that are not covered by a voluntary program.
So, I greatly appreciate the leadership of my colleague Senator Sessions on this amendment. I would ask him: what are some of the policy reasons for supporting our amendment?
Mr. SESSIONS. I thank the Senator from Arkansas. Our amendment is sound policy for at least three reasons. First, the amendment saves taxpayer dollars by reducing redundant testing of products when already covered by a comprehensive, voluntary third-party testing program. At a time of record debt and deficits, this government needs to consider every option for making government lean and fiscally responsible. We have been informed by the Congressional Budget Office that our amendment does not impact the deficit.
Second, the amendment reduces regulatory burdens on American manufacturers. We need to do all we can to help make U.S. manufacturing more competitive on the world stage. Our amendment promotes domestic manufacturing and competiveness.
Third, our amendment increases DOE's enforcement capabilities to ensure that a greater number of products are verified every year. This will help achieve the kinds of energy efficiency improvements the law was intended to achieve. So I think this amendment should garner the support of this body.
I recently received a letter from Rheem Manufacturing Company, which has a large manufacturing facility in Montgomery, AL that employs over 1,000 people and manufactures heating and cooling products in Fort Smith, AR. The Rheem letter expresses support for our amendment and explains that it ``will enhance our ability to sustain American manufacturing jobs and competitiveness while conserving taxpayer resources and allowing federal agencies to focus enforcement on entities that do not voluntarily participate in rigorous industry-led efficiency certification programs.''
I would, in turn, ask Senator Pryor: who else is supportive of this amendment?
Mr. PRYOR. I thank the Senator from Alabama for his remarks. I would answer his question by noting that a broad coalition of industry, energy efficiency, and environmental stakeholders are supportive of our amendment. As you referenced, employers in the State of Arkansas, your State of Alabama, and around the country are supportive. We are also pleased to have the support of the leadership of the Senate Energy Committee, Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Murkowski. I am pleased that we have been able to work together on this amendment.
Mr. SESSIONS. I would ask Senator Pryor one additional question. One of the purposes of this amendment is to reduce the testing burden on manufacturers for a number of Federal government programs. For instance, manufacturers who utilize accredited, independent third parties for testing and certification should not be compelled to undertake duplicative testing to demonstrate compliance with other Federal programs so long as the test methods used for evaluating product performance are the same. Additionally, this amendment does not intend to limit competition between private sector testing and certification programs, provided that accreditation and other legitimate government requirements for recognizing such efforts are clearly defined. Would you agree?
Mr. PRYOR. Yes, I would agree with that characterization.
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