New Lights over the Capitol

John Campbell
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Posted: Apr 02, 2008 4:10 PM

Soon the Capitol Dome may have new lights.  Speaker Pelosi’s Green the Capitol initiative has been the subject of much debate among spending advocates and Members of Congress, and the Capitol Dome illumination plan is no exception.

The “Green the Capitol Initiative” is part of Speaker Pelosi’s environmental policy which includes increased usage of recycled paper, and carbon offset purchases for the House’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Green the Capitol includes an update of the lighting system that illuminates the Capitol Dome at night time.  The contract chosen by the House Administration Committee, worth $671,900 (not including installation), was steered to Rep. Robert Brady’s (D-PA) district - despite receiving other less expensive bids.  As an aside, Mr. Brady is chairman of the House Administration Committee.

I agree that we have a responsibility to be good stewards of the environment, but it must be done in a consistent manner.  Dan Beard, The House Chief Administrative Officer, said of this new lighting project: “We’re not going to drastically cut our energy consumption…”  If Speaker Pelosi would like to upgrade the Capitol’s lighting system at such an exuberant cost, why doesn’t she just come out and say it? 

Furthermore, it would take more than 45 years to recoup the money spent on the new “energy efficient” systems design. 

My question is this, if it is not going to significantly cut energy consumption, and it will actually cost more money in the long run, what is the goal of such a extensive and costly overhaul?