Reports: White House could shutter EPA's Energy Star program
- Among a slew of anticipated changes to energy policy and environmental initiatives, E&E News reports the Trump Administration will move to "close out" the popular Energy Star program, a voluntary labeling initiative for manufacturers of efficient appliances that is maintained through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- E&E News says a preliminary budget document proposes to slash funding from the program, leaving just $5 million to "close out or transfer" the partnerships involved. According to E&E, a source read portions of a draft of the proposed budget cuts that said: "EPA should begin developing legislative options and associated groundwork for transferring ownership and implementation of Energy Star to a non-governmental entity. ... EPA should also explore similar transfer opportunities for the remaining partnership programs as well."
- The label could continue under different governance, but critics say such a move would lack the credibility and effectiveness of a government-maintained system.
President Trump's anticipated rollback of energy and environmental regulations is likely to target swaths of rules many conservatives oppose, but also being caught up are bipartisan and roundly-supported initiatives like Energy Star, which are saving consumers billions.
Trump is expected to issue several executive orders this week to begin rolling back energy regulations and climate change programs, part of what top strategist and advisor Stephen Bannon has called the "deconstruction of the administrative state."
The Energy Star label allows manufacturers of products to submit for efficiency testing. The program has a relatively small budget and according to the Obama administration saved consumers north of $30 billion on their electricity bills in one year.
While the program could be transferred and run independently, critics of the White House's move say the Energy Star would likely lose some of its cache. According to the program's website, it has saved more than $362 billion on consumer utility bills since 1992.
For now, the program continues to run. This year, the EPA designated Nest's learning thermostat an Energy Star product, making it the first thermostat to receive the acknowledgement since regulators stripped it from all programmable thermostats years ago.
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