Advocacy
Issue Brief: The Residentail Energy and Economic Savings Act (TREES Act)

The Issue

ASLA supports legislation that encourages energy efficiency and carbon sequestration through the planting of residential shade trees.

Background & Analysis

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA) has introduced H.R. 1807, the Residential Energy and Economic Savings (TREES) Act, which would authorize a federal grant program to assist utility companies to work with local tree planting organizations to site and strategically plant trees in residential neighborhoods to help reduce energy costs for consumers, help with stormwater runoff, and improve air quality for all. This legislation will help homeowners lower their electric bills and help utilities lower their peak load demand by reducing residential energy demand caused by the need to run air conditioners at a high level.

This bill is patterned after a successful model program implemented by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) in Rep. Matsui’s congressional district. The SMUD program has been proven to lower energy bills, make local power utilities more cost-effective, and reduce air pollution.

The bill calls for use of the best available science to create and utilize tree-siting guidelines that dictate where the optimum tree species are best planted.  The goal is to identify locations that ensure root development and that can achieve maximum reductions in consumer energy demand while causing the least disruption to public infrastructure.  The bill also establishes Technical Advisory Committees to provide technical assistance and guidance in carrying out the tree planting programs.  The measure specifically directs ASLA to recommend a landscape architect to be a member of technical advisory committees. 

ASLA worked closely with Cong. Matsui’s office in helping to draft the TREES legislation, including providing findings on the benefits of trees in addressing stormwater management, carbon sequestration, and residential property values.  The bill also includes ASLA-recommended provisions to: establish an education and information campaign to encourage residents to maintain their trees over a long term; require monitoring and reporting on survival, growth, and estimated savings of the provided trees; and require tree recipients to sign agreements to provide stewardship and care of the trees.


Sponsor(s)

Representative Doris Matsui (CA) and cosponsors.
                                                                                                                                                                                

History

During the 112th Congress, the TREES Act was introduced as the Energy Conservation Through Trees Act, H.R. 2095, by Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA) on June 2, 2011. The 112th Congress expired before action was taken on the measure.

During the 111th Congress, the entire text of the Energy Conservation Through Trees Act was included in H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House of Representatives on June 26, 2009, by a vote of 219-212. H.R. 2454 provides a multifaceted approach to reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gases. In February 2010, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works reported out S.1733, The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act and section 167 of the measure includes the language of the Energy Conservation Through Trees Act, including the ASLA recommended language. The 111th Congress expired without either of these measures being signed into law.


Current Status

The TREES Act  was introduced on Arbor Day, April 26, 2013, and was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power.

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