11 States Sue Trump Administration For Second Time Over Appliance Energy Efficiency Delays

For the second time in two months, a coalition of state attorneys general has sued the Department of Energy, once again claiming the Trump administration has violated federal law by refusing to implement a number of new energy efficiency standards for multiple types of appliances.

At issue are new efficiency standards for five categories of appliances and industrial equipment: portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, air compressors, walk-in coolers and freezers, and commercial packaged boilers. These standards were finalized in Dec. 2016 and should have subsequently been published in the Federal Register to make them official. It’s now more than six months on since the standards were finalized and nothing has been published by the DOE.

Federal regulations do allow for a 45-day “Error Correction” window, but such corrections are limited to typographical, calculation, or numbering mistakes; it is not intended as an opportunity for a new administration to revise the underlying rule.

Yet, according to the lawsuit filed today in a federal court in California, “DOE is relying on the Error Correction Rule to avoid publishing the New Standards in the Federal Register, preventing them from taking effect.”

By not publishing these rules, alleges the complaint, the DOE is violating the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), which requires the agency to set and regularly revise appliance energy efficiency standards.

“These common sense energy efficiency standards are vital to our public health, our environment, and consumers’ pocketbooks. Yet the Trump administration’s policies put polluters before everyday Americans,” says New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the coalition along with California AG Xavier Becerra.

“Every family and every business can be part of the climate change solution by using more energy-efficient appliances,” says Becerra. “However, the Department of Energy is blocking common-sense energy efficiency standards. This is absurd. The Trump Administration should stop stalling and start following the law.”

When reached by Consumerist for comment, a representative for DOE said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

The other states signing on to the lawsuit are Washington, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, Vermont, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Maine. New York City is also represented in the complaint.

A similar coalition of states sued the DOE in April over ceiling fan efficiency standards that had been finalized and published in the Federal Register, but which DOE had repeatedly delayed implementing. DOE, which had hinted it may revise those rules — even though that would arguably trigger the “anti-backsliding” provision of the EPCA — subsequently relented and allowed the ceiling fan standards to move forward without further delay.

(Updated to include response from DOE)

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