NGOs, U.S. states to sue DOE for stalling energy-efficiency standards

By Charlotte McLaughlin, Apr 05, 2017, 09:40 3 minute reading

They are taking legal action for the delay in publishing six standards in the U.S. Federal Register.

Supreme Court of the United States, Washington D.C.

In 2016 the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued six energy-efficiency standards – including those pertaining to walk-in refrigerators/freezers and portable ACs – which are projected to save households and businesses up to $23 billion over 30 years. But the Trump administration has blocked them from taking effect – leading both NGOs and U.S. states to sue the Federal Government for the delays.

The states and NGOs – including the NRDC, the Sierra Club and the Consumer Federation of America, a consumer advocacy organization, and the Texas Ratepayers Organization to Save Energy – announced the lawsuit on 3 April for one of the standards relating to ceiling fans.

This is yet another example of how the Trump administration’s polluter-first energy policy has real and harmful impacts on the public health, environment – and pocketbooks – of New Yorkers.
- New York Attorney General Eric Tradd Schneiderman 

The ceiling fans were due to be published by March 20, 2017 according to the NGOs and Attorneys General of the states of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the City of New York.

New York Attorney General Eric Tradd Schneiderman said: "This is yet another example of how the Trump administration’s polluter-first energy policy has real and harmful impacts on the public health, environment – and pocketbooks – of New Yorkers.”

More lawsuits may come for aircon, fridges, etc.….

The Attorneys General and coalition charge says the DOE is violating both the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) and Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by: 

  • Delaying the effective date of final energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans.
  • Stalling the final standards for compressors, walk-in coolers and freezers, power supply equipment, portable air conditioners, and commercial boilers, by failing to publish them in the Federal Register by March 15, 2017.     
The NGO coalition has placed the DOE on notice for the stalling and they “intend to commence litigation as early as 60 days from the date of this letter, to compel DOE comply with its nondiscretionary duty to publish the five rules,” the NRDC letter read.

In addition, states are also taking action on these delays and have issued a similar notice. 

“By blocking these common sense standards, the administration is reversing progress in cleaning the air we breathe and fighting climate change – and denying consumers and businesses some $24 billion in savings,” Schneiderman added.

The standards on freezers and fridges alone are estimated to save 90 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity over 30 years of sales, equivalent to the annual electricity use of about seven million U.S. homes and 46 million metric tons of harmful CO2 emissions during the same period.

Energy-efficiency regulation has encouraged many US manufacturers to switch from HFCs to hydrocarbon refrigerants in the commercial sector to meet DOE regulation – helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The new standards for portable air conditioners are estimated to save consumers an average of $125 over the lifetime of the air conditioner and cut energy use by more than 20% compared to the least-efficient products available today.

The six new standards are supposed to take effect three years from now, but their entry into force remains uncertain.

“Billions of dollars of consumer savings are at risk due to the delays, which are illegal, unnecessary, and simply unacceptable,” according to Lauren Urbanek, senior energy policy advocate in the energy and transportation program at the NRDC.

By Charlotte McLaughlin

Apr 05, 2017, 09:40

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