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Attorney General Nessel Sues Trump Administration for Neglecting to Update National Energy Efficiency Standards
November 18, 2020
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined 15 other attorneys general and the city of New York in filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s Department of Energy (DOE) for failing to meet legal deadlines for reviewing and updating national energy efficiency standards for 25 categories of common consumer and commercial products and industrial equipment. These categories include home appliances such as washers and dryers, refrigerators and freezers, microwave ovens, room air conditioners and water heaters. The deadlines for updating the majority of the standards — set by Congress in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) — have been in the last four years.
"The Trump administration has neglected to develop or maintain key energy efficiency standards, and this failure will ultimately cost consumers upward of $580 billion and could prove detrimental to our environment,” Nessel said. “These updated standards are long overdue. It’s time for the administration to meet its legal responsibilities and finally strengthen these critically important measures for the benefit of both consumers and our natural resources.”
The EPCA authorizes national energy efficiency standards for a wide variety of consumer and commercial products and industrial equipment. Among other provisions, it establishes initial minimum energy efficiency standards and required DOE to develop new or amended standards for product categories covered by the act. Additionally, to ensure standards maximize an efficiency level that is “technologically feasible and economically justified,” the act requires that DOE meet certain deadlines for reviewing and revising standards on a periodic basis.
In the lawsuit — filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York — the coalition argues that the DOE’s failure to meet federal statutory deadlines for reviewing and strengthening energy efficiency standards for the 25 named product categories violates EPCA.
The coalition charges that DOE’s failure to meet these statutory deadlines deprives the states, their residents and their businesses of the benefits from strengthened standards, including lower energy bills, a more reliable electricity grid, and reduced emissions of harmful air pollutants that contribute to climate change and harm public health. The coalition asks the court to require DOE to comply with the EPCA’s statutory deadlines and other requirements according to an expeditious schedule.
Energy efficiency standards established under EPCA cover more than 60 categories of residential and commercial products and commercial equipment. Together, these products use 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. DOE estimates that, by 2030, efficiency standards completed through 2016 will save more energy than the entire nation consumes in one year and will save consumers more than $2 trillion on their utility bills.
Attorney General Nessel joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia, and the city of New York in filing this lawsuit.
A copy of the lawsuit is available here.