A way to help put America back to work -- and save energy
One of the best job-producing moves government could make, according to energy-conservation advocates, would be an investment in weatherization and solar-energy devices for homes and businesses across the United States.
People involved in such conservation activities say their potential for producing new jobs, business expansion, and energy savings has been demonstrated. A much larger commitment than has been proposed either by the Reagan administration or congressional Democrats is justified, the conservationists argue.
A $5.4 billion Democratic jobs bill, passed by the US House late last year but not acted upon by the Senate, would have provided $250 million for weatherproofing homes and apartments occupied by low-income residents.
Although Department of Energy funding for conservation projects is cut almost in half in President Reagan's proposed fiscal 1984 budget - from $670 million in fiscal '83 to $383 million in the budget year beginning next July 1 - statistics gathered over the past several years by agencies involved in weatherization and solar energy projects indicate these activities are very efficient employment stimulators.
The Solar Lobby in Washington, D.C., will announce later this month a ''Solar Energy, National Security, and Employment Act.'' The measure would provide major impetus to the energy conservation effort. It will not require any new funding in fiscal 1984, according to Scott Sklar, the lobby's political director.
The bill has four parts, explains Mr. Sklar, dealing with small business, national security, employment, and consumer information. ''Basically they either protect or broaden certain programs to help renewable energy or extend programs that are due to be cut off in the future,'' he says. Energy tax credits for small businesses and homeowners, due to expire in 1985, would be extended to 1990. Under the bill, skill training for workers in renewable energy and conservation activities, such as solar and weatherization, would be allowable in all federal jobs programs.