Mr. KERRY . Mr. President, I thank Senator Bingaman for offering an amendment for me and Senator Landrieu to the energy bill regarding small business and energy efficiency. Quite simply, this amendment says that as the Department of Energy and the Department of Environmental Protection work together to raise public awareness of the Energy Star Program, they must make a special effort to reach out to small business.

What is the Energy Star Program? It is an initiative that identifies and promotes energy-efficient products and buildings in order to reduce energy consumption, improve energy security, and reduce pollution. Because small businesses have little time and few resources to learn about options for energy efficiency, within Energy Star there is a voluntary and free program for small businesses that enables owners to calculate the costs of energy efficiency upgrades, estimate payback periods and explore providers of products, services, and financing.

It only makes sense to focus on small businesses. America's 25 million small businesses make up half the economy and, according to a report by E SOURCE, entitled ``The Forgotten Majority: Small Business, Hidden Opportunities,'' small businesses account for more than half of all the commercial energy used in North America. Small businesses represent significant buying power for energy efficient technologies, many of which are developed and manufactured by small businesses. By promoting the development and use of energy efficient products and practices in our small businesses, we will not only help reduce energy use and pollution, but we will also help small businesses cut costs, saving billions of dollars, according to the Center for Small Business and the Environment. By reducing their bottom lines, small businesses increase their competitiveness in the market.

In the last few years, I have held three hearings on small businesses, energy and the environment. Testimony after testimony from policy experts to small business owners validated that investing in energy-efficient and environmentally friendly technologies is a good business, returning far more than compliance with environmental regulations.

While energy efficiency is a major cost-cutting option for small businesses, too few know about it or the Energy Star Program and endorsed Energy Star products. In addition to this amendment, there are other steps we can take to increase awareness. One, enlist the Small Business Administration to spread the word and coordinate efforts with the EPA and DoE. Right now, in spite of a hearing we held last August regarding the business of environmental technology and the benefits of Energy Star services to small businesses, SBA continues to bury Energy Star within its website. The three agencies should coordinate their efforts, SBA has contact with thousands of small businesses daily, and is in a unique position to reach them compared to DoE and EPA.

Another step we should take is to have SBA's disaster loan program and Federal Emergency Management Agency promote Energy Star products when small businesses rebuild or replace equipment. Billions of dollars each year go to rebuilding businesses and homes, and it presents an excellent opportunity to invest in products that are good for the economy and the environment.

Last, for small businesses that do want to make upgrades, the upfront cost is often a deterrent, even with rebates from local utility companies. Small businesses typically don't have a lot of extra cash lying around to finance the purchases. SBA should find a way to work with the DoE and EPA to facilitate upgrades by getting financing for qualified businesses through the SBA's loan programs. Because we know energy efficient products increase profits, that should help lenders approve loans because there will be money for repayment.

I thank Senator Landrieu for joining me in offering this amendment. I thank Byron Kennard of the Center for Small Business and the Environment and his colleague Carol Werner for educating the public and policy makers about the significance of small businesses to energy and environmental policy. And, lastly, I thank Senators Bingaman and Murkowski and their staff for making this amendment possible.