Press Release

Fifteen AGs Call on Energy Department to Drop “Unlawful” Changes to Energy Conservation Program

The energy conservation program is a proven and effective program resulting in trillions of dollars in cost savings for consumers

Wash­ing­ton, D.C. — A mul­ti-state coali­tion of 15 state attor­neys gen­er­al led by Cal­i­for­nia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Xavier Becer­ra sub­mit­ted com­ments today call­ing on the Ener­gy Depart­ment to aban­don its pro­pos­al alter­ing the agency’s process for set­ting new ener­gy effi­cien­cy stan­dards. The Trump administration’s pro­posed rule would make it more dif­fi­cult for fed­er­al reg­u­la­tors to set more ambi­tious stan­dards for a wide range of prod­ucts cov­ered under the Ener­gy Con­ser­va­tion Pro­gram for Con­sumer Prod­ucts.

Ener­gy effi­cien­cy stan­dards are now the rule, not the excep­tion in Amer­i­ca. That’s because they are good for the envi­ron­ment and good for con­sumers,” said Attor­ney Gen­er­al Becer­ra. The Depart­ment of Energy’s plan to revise the Process Rule will cre­ate unnec­es­sary road­blocks to cost sav­ings for every­day Amer­i­cans. We urge DOE to with­draw this fee­ble pro­pos­al that caters to the old way of doing busi­ness over the needs of Amer­i­can fam­i­lies.”

In their com­ment let­ter, the attor­neys gen­er­al ques­tioned the need for updat­ing the agency’s cur­rent review process and not­ed that the Con­gres­sion­al­ly-man­dat­ed Ener­gy Con­ser­va­tion Pro­gram is on track to save con­sumers $2 tril­lion dol­lars in ener­gy costs by 2030. The Ener­gy Con­ser­va­tion Pro­gram has had a sig­nif­i­cant impact in low­er­ing dan­ger­ous cli­mate pol­lu­tion, and the pro­posed rule would lim­it these gains by con­tra­ven­ing Congress’s intent of steadi­ly increas­ing the num­ber of prod­ucts cov­ered by ener­gy effi­cien­cy stan­dards.

The coali­tion not­ed that, if final­ized, the rule adds admin­is­tra­tive bar­ri­ers that would pre­vent the Ener­gy Depart­ment from meet­ing statu­to­ry dead­lines estab­lished by Con­gress for updat­ing exist­ing stan­dards. The AGs also raised con­cerns regard­ing the Trump administration’s pro­pos­al to defer to indus­tri­al stan­dards over the Ener­gy Department’s own inde­pen­dent analy­sis.

Final­ly, the coali­tion object­ed to the 10 per­cent thresh­old that the pro­posed rule would estab­lish for set­ting new stan­dards – an arbi­trary lim­it that is not sup­port­ed by the law. The Ener­gy Pol­i­cy and Con­ser­va­tion Act only autho­rizes the Ener­gy Depart­ment to weigh the added pur­chase cost cre­at­ed by new ener­gy effi­cien­cy stan­dards against the val­ue of ener­gy sav­ings dur­ing the first year of a product’s life­cy­cle to deter­mine if a more ambi­tious stan­dard is eco­nom­i­cal­ly jus­ti­fied.

Instead of improv­ing the reg­u­la­to­ry process, this pro­posed rule has been designed to pre­vent fed­er­al reg­u­la­tors from meet­ing their legal oblig­a­tions to set ambi­tious ener­gy effi­cien­cy stan­dards under the Ener­gy Pol­i­cy and Con­ser­va­tion Act,” said David J. Hayes, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter. The Ener­gy Depart­ment has already missed more than 16 dead­lines to final­ize new ener­gy effi­cien­cy stan­dards that will save con­sumers mil­lions and keep harm­ful cli­mate pol­lu­tion out of the atmos­phere. State attor­neys gen­er­al are demand­ing that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion fol­low the law instead of propos­ing reforms’ designed to under­mine it.”

In addi­tion to Cal­i­for­nia, attor­neys gen­er­al of Col­orado, Con­necti­cut, Illi­nois, Maine, Mary­land, Mass­a­chu­setts, Michi­gan, Min­neso­ta, New York, North Car­oli­na, Ore­gon, Ver­mont, Wash­ing­ton, and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. also joined the mul­ti-state coalition.

BACK­GROUND

The Ener­gy Con­ser­va­tion Pro­gram was estab­lished by the Ener­gy Pol­i­cy and Con­ser­va­tion Act of 1975, and it cov­ers a range of prod­ucts that are col­lec­tive­ly respon­si­ble for a major­i­ty of ener­gy use in res­i­den­tial, com­mer­cial and indus­tri­al build­ings. Under the Act, the Ener­gy Depart­ment must amend its ener­gy effi­cien­cy stan­dards every six years unless doing so would fail to result in sig­nif­i­cant ener­gy sav­ings, or if updat­ing cur­rent stan­dards would be tech­no­log­i­cal­ly infea­si­ble, or if the increased ener­gy effi­cien­cy cre­at­ed by stronger stan­dards would not be cost effec­tive over the life-cycle of a prod­uct.

To meet its statu­to­ry oblig­a­tions under the Ener­gy Pol­i­cy and Con­ser­va­tion Act, the Ener­gy Department’s Office of Ener­gy Effi­cien­cy & Renew­able Ener­gy (EERE) final­ized the Pro­ce­dures, Inter­pre­ta­tions, and Poli­cies for Con­sid­er­a­tion of New or Revised Ener­gy Con­ser­va­tion Stan­dards for Con­sumer Prod­ucts (the Process Rule”) in 1996 to pro­vide reg­u­la­to­ry flex­i­bil­i­ty and improve stake­hold­er engage­ment as it sets new ener­gy effi­cien­cy standards.

ABOUT THE STATE ENER­GY & ENVI­RON­MEN­TAL IMPACT CEN­TER
The State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter is a non-par­ti­san Cen­ter at the NYU School of Law that is ded­i­cat­ed to work­ing with state attor­neys gen­er­al to pro­tect and advance clean ener­gy, cli­mate change, and envi­ron­men­tal val­ues and pro­tec­tions. It was launched in August 2017 with sup­port from Bloomberg Phil­an­thropies. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it our web­site.