Federal judge rules White House delay of efficiency standards is unlawful
- A federal judge yesterday ruled the White House's delay on finalizing efficiency regulations for several consumer and commercial products is unlawful and the Department of Energy must issue the regulations within 28 days.
- In separate lawsuits, environmental groups and attorneys general from almost a dozen states sued DOE in June to force the release of final regulations covering portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, air compressors, packaged boilers and walk-in coolers.
- The new rules were put on hold in January 2017 as President Trump came into office, as part of a freeze on new regulations.
The decision, issued by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is a win for efficiency advocates who have been frustrated by the White House's roll-back of many clean energy regulations and initiatives. The efficiency standards were not particularly controversial when approved by the Obama Administration but were stymied by President Trumps' vow eliminate rules and regulations he considers costly or burdensome.
The judge's ruling means DOE now has less than a month to issue final regulations on portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, air compressors, and commercial packaged boilers. The standards for walk-in coolers, the kind used by restaurants and grocery stores, were eventually published by the White House after the lawsuits were filed.
The states' lawsuit was led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with the top law enforcement officials for Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Also included in the lawsuit were the California Energy Commission and the City of New York.
“The Trump administration has made a point of rolling back basic, common sense energy efficiency standards,” Schneiderman said in a statement, vowing to “continue to fight to ensure the Trump administration meets its obligations to New Yorkers and the law.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council and Earthjustice represented the Sierra Club, the Consumer Federation of America, and Texas Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy, in the second lawsuit.
Lauren Urbanek, a senior energy policy advocate at NRDC, in a blog post said the decision will mean $8.4 billion in utility bill savings, while also avoiding 99 million metric tons of carbon pollution over the next three decades. But she also said the White House has missed multiple other deadlines to file standards.
As of January 2018, Urbanek said DOE has missed deadlines for eight additional standards, "and has moved 20 others to the back burner by signaling that they don’t intend to work on them in the next year."
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