Jewish groups play different roles in climate change bill

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

A couple of Jewish groups played a role in Friday’s passage of a landmark climate change bill by the House – the first major piece of legislation to address the issue of carbon emissions and global warming. Another played a role in one aspect of the legislation.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) made the measure a top priority, several officials of the group said this week; the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism was also heavily involved. (Read a RAC action alert on the issue here).

The Orthodox Union was  actually the first group out with a press release on the bill’s passage.  The group congratulated “the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454), a multi-billion set of spending and regulatory programs to reduce energy costs, create jobs, and aid the environment.”

But what was particularly interesting to the OU: the inclusion of “faith-based properties in the Act’s building retrofit program designed to provide subsidies of up to 50 percent of the cost of retrofitting a building’s energy systems – with funding dependent on the level of demonstrated energy use reduction.”

According to the OU and others, it was the group’s lobbying that ensured the inclusion of  provisions that could ultimately mean millions of dollars for Jewish institutions to help modernize and green facilities.

The measure now goes to the Senate, and you can bet the RAC and JCPA will be fighting for passage – and that the OU will be fighting to retain the faith based parts of the legislation.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.