- The federal government has failed to review and update more than two dozen appliance standards, costing consumers billions of dollars every year while while increasing climate pollution, according to a pair of lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District.
- On Monday, more than a dozen states and cities led by New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit claiming the updated standards could save $580 billion in energy costs and avoid over 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
- In a similar lawsuit filed Oct. 30, six environmental and consumer groups led by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) asked that the court direct the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to "promptly initiate rulemakings and complete reviews" of the missed standards.
The 25 overdue standards are the most of any presidential administration, say efficiency advocates. Despite a projected win by Democratic candidate Joe Biden, whose energy plan champions efficiency and energy saving appliances, they say waiting for a new administration to review the delayed appliance standards is not an option.
"It's always been extremely important that these cases go forward no matter the outcome of the presidential election," NRDC senior attorney Jared Knicley said in a statement. "The Trump administration's abject failures on energy efficiency policy do not disappear when President-elect Biden is sworn in."
While media outlets have Biden the winner, the Trump administration has alleged voting irregularities and brought legal challenges to block some results from being certified.
Consumers will not see benefits of more efficient appliances until the DOE completes updates to standards, say advocates. "Our lawsuit still intends to make sure that happens as soon as possible," said Knicley.
DOE did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, or progress made to update the standards.
According to NRDC, updating appliance standards could save U.S. consumers at least $22 billion annually on their utility bills, and potentially much more.
The group says DOE has missed deadlines for a wide range of products, including washers and dryers, dishwashers, microwaves, water heaters, room air conditioners, small electric motors, furnaces, fans and other appliances.
More than a dozen attorneys general say the Trump administration has violated the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), and they have asked the court to require DOE to comply with the act's statutory deadlines. The law requires standards to be reviewed every six years.
The lawsuit brought by states and cities "seeks to enforce the law and compel prompt action to strengthen these critically important and impactful energy-saving measures," James said in a statement. "My office will continue to force the Trump Administration to fully meet its legal responsibilities to protect the health, environment, and well-being of all Americans."
New York is joined in its lawsuit by: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia and the city of New York.
The advocacy groups' lawsuit was filed by NRDC and also includes: Public Citizen, Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, Consumer Federation of America, and the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants with Earthjustice as their counsel.
The groups' lawsuit maintains DOE's "foot-dragging results in greater — and avoidable — energy use, causing increased air pollution that harms public health and the environment, and higher energy bills for consumers and other users of the overdue products."
There are more than 60 categories of appliances covered by EPCA, and experts say they account for about 90% of the total amount of energy consumed in U.S. homes in the United States, 60% of the energy used in commercial buildings, and 30% of the energy used by industry, according to experts.