U.S. Department of Energy continues to delay required updates of energy efficiency standards

U.S. energy efficiency standards languishing

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A coalition of 16 state Attorneys General and the corporate counsel for New York City have warned they will take legal action if the United States Department of Energy (DOE) continues to delay statutorily required updates to dozens of energy efficiency standards. The potential litigants filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue yesterday, urging U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette to move forward with reviews and/or amendments of standards related to 25 categories of consumer, commercial and industrial products including: fluorescent lamp ballasts; commercial air conditioners; commercial water heating equipment; electric motors; and heat pumps.

“DOE’s delay in strengthening national standards results in missed opportunities to conserve energy and avoid the economic and environmental costs of energy production and use,” the 17 signatories stressed in their associated communications. “Without question, updated standards for the 25 product categories would generate substantial consumer savings and environmental benefits, with DOE’s unlawful delay prolonging the time that less efficient appliances stay on the market and remain in use.”

Under the U.S. Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), energy efficiency standards cannot be weakened. The DOE must also follow a legislated schedule for reviews, reconsideration and rule-making — which, for the 25 product categories, has not occurred during the current government’s administration. The coalition is now turning to other legislation that holds the DOE accountable for fulfilling its mandatory, non-discretionary.

“DOE’s failure to timely review and update efficiency standards violates EPCA, frustrates Congress’ energy conservation goals and harms public, state, and local governmental interests. Without the benefit of updated standards, electricity and natural gas consumption will increase, as will energy bills for states, municipalities, and their residents and businesses,” the Attorneys General contend. “Additionally, increases in fossil fuel consumption resulting from reduced efficiency lead to increased emissions of air pollutants that negatively impact public health and the environment, including emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to climate change.”

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is leading the challenge, which also includes her peers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.

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