Cap n Trade Bill – Section 304

I bet you thought that if you bought a house, you actually own it and can, with reasonable exceptions, do with it what you want. You probably think that if you want to live in a log cabin, with wood stoves that belch smoke into the air for heat, and an old washer and dryer that don’t have those little EnergyStar stickers on them you can because it’s your life and your property. You paid for it with money you earned with the sweat of your brow and what the heck is America anyhow if a body can’t live in the home they want furnished with the appliances they want?

Ah, silly you. You didn’t reckon on the Democratic Party’s desire to control every miniscule aspect of your life.

Let me introduce you to a little section of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill called the “Building Energy Performance Labeling Program”. It’s section 304 of the bill and it says, basically, that your house belongs to the state. See, the Federal Government really wants a country full of energy-efficient homes, so much so that the bill mandates that new homes be 30 percent more energy efficient than the current building code on the very day the law is signed. That efficiency goes up to 50 percent by 2014 and only goes higher from there, all the way to 2030. That, by the way, is not merely a target but a requirement of the law. New homes must reach those efficiency targets no matter what.

But what does that have to do with current homeowners like you? Well, I’m glad you asked. You’re certainly not off the hook, no way, no how. Here’s what the Democrats have planned for you. The program requires that states label their buildings so that we can all know how efficient every building (that includes residential and non-residential buildings) is and it requires that the information be made public. To that end, the bill suggests a number of circumstances under which the states could inspect a building, including:

(A) preparation, and public disclosure of the label through filing with tax and title records at the time of–

(i) a building audit conducted with support from Federal or State funds;

(ii) a building energy-efficiency retrofit conducted in response to such an audit;

(iii) a final inspection of major renovations or additions made to a building in accordance with a building permit issued by a local government entity;

(iv) a sale that is recorded for title and tax purposes consistent with paragraph (8);

(v) a new lien recorded on the property for more than a set percentage of the assessed value of the property, if that lien reflects public financial assistance for energy-related improvements to that building; or

(vi) a change in ownership or operation of the building for purposes of utility billing; or

(B) other appropriate means.

Pay close attention to (iii), (iv), and (vi) because those hit you right where you live. What that’s saying is the state will be empowered to inspect your home if you want to 1) renovate your house in any way that requires a building permit, 2) sell your house, or 3) change the name of the person responsible for any utility bill.

By now, if you haven’t swallowed your tongue and are in need of medical attention, you’re probably wondering if there’s a penalty for not being in compliance with the new efficiency ratings. The answer is no, and yes. Here’s where the bill gets really sneaky. So far as I can tell, there is no direct penalty if your house does not meet the bill’s target. However, it does require that the number of buildings inspected by the state meet certain percentage targets and if they do not, the state loses out on a significant portion of the money it could get from Washington. In other words, the bill demands certain things from the states, but ties funding for those demands to compliance with the demands.

Did I say the bill gets sneaky? I was wrong. The bill strong-arms the states like a couple mob heavies leaning on a witness in a Rico trial. In turn, the states are going to put the screws to you, so it gets the billions of dollars Washington is dangling in front of them. So while the Federal government won’t directly punish you, it will provide the states with lots and lots of rectangular, green reasons to do so.

And it gets worse. The Federal government has graciously offered to help homeowners with the retrofits the states will force them to do through a program called the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Purposes (REEP). REEP sets aside a pool of money in each state for property owners who have to turn their polar bear-killing buildings into lean, mean, green machines. But, and I’m sure you’ve guessed this already, there’s a catch. Before I get to that, here’s the magic formula (and don’t read ahead and spoil the surprise!):

(i) AWARDS- For residential buildings–

(I) support for a free or low-cost detailed building energy audit that prescribes, as part of a energy-reducing measures sufficient to achieve at least a 20 percent reduction in energy use, by providing an incentive equal to the documented cost of such audit, but not more than $200, in addition to any earned by achieving a 20 percent or greater efficiency improvement;

(II) a total of $1,000 for a combination of measures, prescribed in an audit conducted under subclause (I), designed to reduce energy consumption by more than 10 percent, and $2,000 for a combination of measures prescribed in such an audit, designed to reduce energy consumption by more than 20 percent;

(III) $3,000 for demonstrated savings of 20 percent, pursuant to a performance-based building retrofit program; and

(IV) $1,000 for each additional 5 percentage points of energy savings achieved beyond savings for which funding is provided under subclause (II) or (III).

If you want to hit that 50 percent savings mark that all new homes have to hit, then you can get as much as $12,200, including inspection, as you scoop all those awards. That’s a pretty good chunk of change that should cover most, if not all of the costs of a retrofit on any moderately-sized older house, right? Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

Except for that catch and boy is it a doozy.

(ii) MAXIMUM PERCENTAGE- Awards under clause (i) shall not exceed 50 percent of retrofit costs for each building. For buildings with multiple residential units, awards under clause (i) shall not be greater than 50 percent of the total cost of retrofitting the building, prorated among individual residential units on the basis of relative costs of the retrofit.

Did you get that? You’ll be on the hook for half of the cost of the retrofit, no matter what. To get the full effect of that part of the bill, I suggest you visit this web page and click the big yellow button right after you finish reading it.

I think Mark Steyn sums it up rather nicely:

I confess I’m finding it harder and harder to see why you fellows bothered holding a revolution. Under this bill, it will be illegal for me to sell my property to a willing buyer without first bringing it into line with some twerp bureaucrat’s arbitrary and ever shifting “environmental” regulations originally designed for California, and which have helped turn the Golden State into the foldin’ state, but which are nevertheless now to be applied from Maine to Alaska. And no matter what you spend a couple of years down the road the standards will be “revised” and you’ll be out of compliance all over again.

Jimmy Bise (AIP)- http://bit.ly/JGWFI

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