Response to Daily Show: October 24, 2011

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart segment on the federal low-income Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) which aired on October 24, 2011 is misleading and, in some cases, factually inaccurate. The WAP network faced considerable administrative and managerial challenges in ramping up from a $250 million to $5 billion program.  The majority of the states proceeded quickly and with due caution to insure accountability and quality work. This is a proven, effective program, and to disparage the whole on the part of a few is disingenuous and misleading.  

While there have been isolated incidents of work that did not meet Department of Energy standards, to which States responded with alacrity, overall the Recovery Act WAP has been a resounding success and has improved the homes and lives of over 534,208 low-income families through August 2011 while providing nearly 15,000 jobs. Characterizing 14% of WAP jobs as ?failed? and implying major health and safety issues in those homes does not account for the fact that most States use a simple ?pass/fail? system when monitoring homes and the vast majority of issues needing remediation are minor and do not constitute any kind of health or safety risk.

The WAP in Delaware faced specific challenges due to a historically small program with less developed oversight, standards, and training.  However, the issues that surfaced due to contractor work was not due to fraudulent activity; instead, improper procedures were instituted in the spirit of a quick stimulus expansion.  These problems have since been rectified.  In fact, since the issues were uncovered, the State completely overhauled their policies and procedures, hired all new contractors, provided extensive training, and are insuring adequate controls and oversight as they prepare to restart program operations. Also, newly hired and trained auditors and inspectors are going back to each home already served to guarantee the low-income families received appropriate, effective services.  The problems identified in other states have been similarly addressed and rectified with assistance from the federal, State, and local levels.  

Perhaps most troubling, the Seattle program detailed in the segment is a grant through the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant, not the WAP. While this does not excuse the issues with that program, it is inaccurate to say it is as a result of the WAP and we ask that you consider this in the future. In fact, as of August 2011 Washington state has weatherized 11,734 homes, 163% of the planned production amount.

Additionally, WAP is 8th on the list of Recovery Act jobs, with nearly 15,000 jobs supported.  WAP is heavily invested in training the emerging green workforce and is a key gateway for the expansion of the green residential energy efficiency market.   The advanced diagnostics and technology employed by the program are truly state-of-the art and enable measurable energy savings averaging 35% of pre-consumption, providing much needed relief for the extreme energy burden of the program?s recipients.

Weatherization works, both for the households served and as a sound government investment.  Throughout its history, WAP has made a huge positive impact on over 6.7 million families. The program provides significant energy savings for its recipients, makes America?s housing stock more energy efficient, improves the indoor air quality while reducing health and safety risks, provides jobs, reduces carbon emissions, and lessens America?s dependence on foreign oil.