Energy efficiency is the low-hanging fruit of greenhouse gas reductions. The Department of Energy published five new energy efficiency standards at the end of December, slated to take effect on March 20. The problem is that by the time they were slated to take effect, Donald Trump was in office and Rick Perry was sworn in as the head of the DOE. The Trump administration delayed the rules until September 30.
Environmental and consumer groups, 11 states, and the city of New York filed a lawsuit suing President Trump’s administration for stalling the five energy efficiency standards. The lawsuit challenges the DOE’s delay of the final rules of standards which were developed under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). The DOE’s “failure to submit the five final rules for publication violates the agency’s error-correction regulation under EPCA,” according to the lawsuit, and violates the Administrative Procedure Act and the Federal Register Act.
“These delays are not only baffling, they’re unnecessary and illegal,” said Kit Kennedy, director of NRDC’s Energy and Transportation Program, in a statement.
“The Trump administration is inexplicably blocking the final step for standards that the Department of Energy last year signed off on as cost-effective with major benefits for consumers and the environment. All five rules have gone through a rigorous and legally required rulemaking process with ample opportunity for input.”
In April, environmental and consumer groups sent a letter to the DOE urging the federal agency to “comply with its duty to publish in the Federal Register five final rules prescribing energy conservation standards under the EPCA.” The groups point out that energy efficiency is the “most affordable and effective solution to America’s energy problems,” and failing to send the five final rules to the Federal Register is “unacceptable.”
The five energy efficiency standards include the Portable Air Conditioners rule. Portable air conditioners, which are on the floor and use an exhaust hose to push hot air through a window, have yet to be subject to an energy conservation standard and are not as efficient as other cooling equipment. They use about twice as much energy a year as new window air conditioners. The new standards would save consumers up to $3 billion, and avoid about 25.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is equal to the annual emissions of 5.4 million cars.
The four others include new standards for:
- Backup battery and charging systems that automatically keep electronics running when the power goes out of fluctuates.
- Air compressors used to power commercial and industrial equipment.
- Walk-in coolers and freezers.
- Commercial packaged boilers which are used to heat commercial and multi-family residential buildings.
The five energy efficiency standards could save consumers as much as $11 billion on their electricity bills while preventing 25 million metric tons of GHG emissions over 30 years. The DOE is required by law to establish and update energy efficiency standards for household and commercial products. The enabling statute was signed into law in 1987 by Republican President Reagan and strengthened under President George W. Bush, another Republican president. Standards completed through 2016 will save consumers over $1 trillion on their electricity bills by 2020 and over $2 trillion by 2030.
In other words, energy efficiency standards put more money into the wallets of Americans and prevent the GHG emissions that are heating the planet.
Gina-Marie Cheeseman is a central California-based freelance writer and journalist writing on sustainability, environmental issues, and healthy living. Mashable.com named Cheeseman as one of the “75 Environmentalists to Follow on Twitter.” Find out more at http://www.justmeans.com/users/gina-marie-cheeseman