April 22, 2020
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel recently joined a coalition of 14 attorneys general and the City of New York in filing a lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the Department of Energy’s (DOE) revisions to its process rule, parts of which will ultimately reduce energy savings and increase pollutant emissions.
Adopted in 1996, the rule ensures the DOE meets an Energy Policy Conservation Act (EPCA) mandate to create energy conservation standards that benefit the public in a timely manner. The DOE's recent revisions, however, create a number of roadblocks to the adoption of new standards and the review of existing standards. For example, the DOE imposes an unreasonably high threshold for energy efficiency savings – effectively prohibiting the adoption of any standard that does not result in energy savings equivalent to powering eight million homes for an entire year. In the lawsuit, the coalition will argue that this threshold is impermissibly high and would result in the unnecessary loss of significant energy savings.
“Revisions to this process rule would make it much more difficult for the Department of Energy to create and impose energy efficiency standards,” said Nessel. “Establishing energy efficiency savings standards that encourage steady growth and investment in the environmental arena is working. The revisions to the DOE’s process rule will eliminate the progress that’s been made over the past several years.”
DOE’s long-standing energy efficiency program has resulted in substantial economic and environmental benefits, with more than $2 trillion in projected consumer savings and 2.6 billion tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions. DOE has achieved many of these benefits through rulemaking under the Process Rule. DOE’s revisions now threaten that progress. DOE itself acknowledges that the higher threshold will reduce energy savings and increase GHG and pollutant emissions. Despite this, DOE unlawfully exempted its action from the environmental review required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
In filing the lawsuit, Attorney General Nessel joined the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia, as well as the City of New York.