Fifteen AGs Sued Energy Department Over Failure to Review and Update Energy Efficiency Standards for 25 Product Classes

New York Attorney General Letitia James led a coalition of 15 attorneys general in filing a lawsuit against the Energy Department (DOE) over its failure to comply with its obligations under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) to review and amend energy efficiency standards for 25 categories of consumer and commercial appliances, including water heaters, clothes dryers, air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers. In their complaint, the attorneys general emphasized that the department’s failures carry serious implications for consumers and for the climate, noting that strengthened efficiency standards for the product categories at issue “could save over $580 billion in energy costs and avoid over two billion metric tons of CO2 emissions by the year 2050.” The attorneys general also emphasized that the broader EPCA energy conservation program is a win-win for consumers and for the climate, noting that by 2030, existing EPCA energy efficiency standards will cumulatively save consumers more than $2 trillion in energy costs, and will yield 7.9 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions reductions, “an amount greater than all United States greenhouse gas emissions generated in a year.” The more than 60 categories of appliances covered by the program account for “about 90 percent of the total amount of energy consumed in homes in the United States, 60 percent of the energy used in the country’s commercial buildings, and 30 percent of the energy used in our nation’s industries.”

In September 2022, the coalition (with three new states joining in) secured an agreement with DOE. Under the agreement, DOE must expedite the updates of the standards. Cumulatively, this is predicted to save $600 billion in energy costs by 2050 and prevent over 90 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year through 2040.