Katie Couric Disses Energy-Saving Weatherization As Embarrassing

Weatherization is, to most of us, a little like saving for retirement or a kid's college education...something you'd really rather not do, but you hope the investment now will garner future returns. In the case of weatherization - modifying a building to reduce energy consumption and increase energy use efficiency - you don't even have to wait long before money hits your pocket in the form of lower bills. Plus lower energy use reduces carbon and other emissions. It was weird when John Boehner bashed weatherization. And it's even stranger when newscaster Katie Couric dissed investment in weatherization on national TV.

Couric: Sen. Mitch McConnell said over the weekend that surely you're privately embarrassed by some of the product that came out of the house version and let me just mention some of the spending in this package: $6.2 billion for home weatherization...

You've just got to wonder why McConnell and then Couric chose this specific example, which was lumped in with $100 million for children to learn green construction (sounds like a cool idea!), $50 million for wastewater treatment at a port in Guam, and $50 million for the National Endowment for the arts - as something Obama should be "privately embarrassed" about.

What's embarrassing is weatherization-bashing
Is there anything embarrassing about weatherization? Well, it's kind of embarrassing that we need to do so much of it. Last year, the Department of Energy had just $272 million for weatherization assistance, and though critics say the higher $6.2 bilion amount will be difficult to have sufficient oversight on, Robert DeSoto of DOE says the program will continue as before, just with many more houses eligible to get a slightly higher amount of funds (from $3,055 max to $5,000 max). And DOE says every $1 on weatherization invested returns $1.65 in energy-related benefits. The DOE says weatherization assistance has aided more than 5.6 million low-income families. Weatherizing a million homes is estimated to create up to 78,000 jobs.

Could this possibly be considered green pork?
In one sense, partially. If you define pork, or pork barrel spending, as spending to benefit only a particular constituent group, then weatherization investment could be said to only benefit a) homeowners of the up to 1 million homes in all 50 states that will be eligible, b) small businesses in the 50 states that will do the weatherizing, c) out-of-work constituents that might get a weatherizing job. It's a pretty big minority.

Weatherization: It's a 'threefer'
It's possible that neither Couric nor McConnell have ever really considered weatherization for their own homes. They might not be eligible for weatherization assistance. Yet they and nearly all the rest of us can save money by weatherizing, even if we get someone else to perform the service and pay directly out of pocket. Obama's response to Couric implied that weatherization, instead of being an embarrassing pork product, is actually a 'threefer':

Obama: Well, let's think about it. We're going to weatherize homes, that immediately puts people back to work and we're going to train people who are out of work, including young people, to do the weatherization. As a consequence of weatherization, our energy bills go down and we reduce our dependence on foreign oil. What would be a more effective stimulus package than that? I mean, you're getting a threefer. Not only are you immediately putting people back to work but you're also saving families on your energy bills and you're laying the groundwork for long term energy independence. That's exactly the kind of program that we should be funding.
Via: CBS
Read more on weatherization at Planet Green and TreeHugger
Green Your Home for Winter: The Quick List
CSI: Thermal Police Looking for Leaks
Seeger, Van Jones Embrace the Way of the Gun
Futher Reading on Home Heating

Tags: Barack Obama | Carbon Emissions | Energy Efficiency | Heating

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