Energy

The American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance supports energy policies that will protect the quality of life for future homeowners. Homeowners should support energy conservation in every way possible. There should be an increase in funds earmarked for weatherization for low-income homeowners, and the program should be expanded to include active and passive energy systems. Funding for research into energy conservation and renewable energy technologies for home, consumer and industrial uses should be expanded. Tax credits should be offered to homeowners and builders to encourage higher standards of energy efficiency in new home construction and remodeling.

Other alternatives to reduce energy consumption should also be supported. The use of public transportation and car-pooling should be encouraged. The rapid growth of home-based businesses and telecommuting should receive even greater encouragement because they eliminate energy use associated with commuting. More favorable incentives for business use of the home and health care insurance deductions would encourage more individuals to start home-based businesses. Pollution credits for businesses that support telecommuting would encourage the more rapid adoption of telecommuting policies.

The energy crisis in California has illustrated our nation’s vulnerability to energy resources. Notwithstanding the incentives for energy conservation proposed in President Bush’s energy plan and many other worthy energy conservation incentives suggested by a number of environmental groups, the long-term outlook for affordable energy in the U.S. is not good. Recent public opinion polls have showed homeowners are increasingly favoring additional steps to increase U.S. energy availability. AHGA favors such steps, which should balance environmental concerns as well as homeowner property rights and health and safety priorities. Alternative new energy sources should be analyzed objectively from this perspective. If needed new sources for energy should be developed which would generate the necessary U.S. energy supplies in the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly manner consistent with the aforementioned objectives. Supplies should be sufficient to prevent onerous energy price inflation through the normal interaction of supply and demand

Environment

Prevention of pollution is the most effective way homeowners can protect the environment. Homeowners should take advantage of all available recycling programs, and seek out products with little or no packaging or non-recyclable components. The goal should be to reduce, reuse, and recycle all solid, toxic and hazardous waste. Additional programs and standards should be developed to support these goals.

Environmental policies should also protect the quality of life for future homeowners. They should also recognize that homeowners and other consumers must ultimately pay the costs of an improved environment, and balance the rights and needs of the environment and future generations with those of the current generation.

Most US environmental policies reflect a fair balance. The costs of current air quality standards to consumers are not inexpensive, but are worth the investment. Reasonable and affordable auto emission standards should be applied to sport utility vehicles, and auto manufacturers should be provided incentives to continue to invest in clean engine technologies.

Homeowners should play a greater role in the standard setting practice at the regulatory and legislative levels. Well intended efforts to protect the environment (the low flow toilet is an example) can result in the mandatory implementation of technologies before they are up to the task at hand. Homeowners can play a leavening role in working for environmental improvements at a pace that does not create undue hardships for the nation’s homeowners.

Property Rights

Not all environmental policies have been fair and balanced to homeowners. The importance of real estate property rights is recognized in the US Constitution. While legitimate and greater public interests can justify the mandated acquisition of homes for the purpose of building schools, roads, etc., existing laws of eminent domain protect homeowners by creating a process where they are fairly compensated for the loss of property. AHGA strongly supports the purchase of environmentally important and threatened land by the federal and state governments, so long as fair compensation is provided to property owners.

In recent years public environmental laws have diminished the property rights of homeowners. In particular some environmental laws have precluded or reduced the rights of homeowners to build or expand homes. These same laws did not create eminent domain procedures to provide fair compensation to homeowners for the reduction in value of their property caused by these actions. In some cases the economic impact could be substantial. For example an ocean front lot in a good location that is zoned for single-family homes is typically very valuable. If legitimate environmental priorities make it necessary to revoke the right to build a home on that lot, its resale value would drop drastically. This has already happened.

The American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance supports reasonable environmental laws, and recognizes that in some cases it may be in the public interest to revoke homeowner’s existing property rights. However those rights should not be curtailed without procedures similar to eminent domain, which would provide fair compensation for the homeowner’s economic loss. The federal and state governments, as well as several environmental groups, should reconsider their opposition to fair compensation of homeowners for economic loss, when environmental priorities require that homeowner’s property rights be rescinded.

Energy, Environment and Property Rights