- In two separate filings, environmental groups and about a dozen state and city governments have informed the Trump administration they intend to file lawsuits if final efficiency regulations for a handful of consumer and commercial products are not finalized.
- The new rules were put on hold in January, as part of a freeze on issuing new regulations as President Trump took office. The rules would cover products like ceiling fans, portable air conditioners, walk-in coolers and freezers, and commercial boilers.
- Led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, 11 states and New York City announced they intend to sue if the finalized rules are not published in the Federal Register. Earthjustice, the Consumer Federation of America, NRDC and Sierra Club made a similar filing.
Less than a week after the White House launched an opening salvo on the Clean Power Plan and other Obama-era environmental rules, a range of stakeholders have returned fire with threats to sue over what had been relatively non-controversial efficiency rules for everyday products.
In January, after President Trump was inaugurated, the White House directed federal agencies to cease finalization of new regulations until the administration reviewed the work. That impacted a handful of efficiency regulations finalized in the waning days of the Obama administration, but not yet published in the Federal Register.
While the rules were a non-partisan effort, a 45-day waiting period meant they could not be published until the Trump administration came into office.
“By blocking these common sense standards, the administration is reversing progress," Schneiderman said in a statement. "I will continue to use the full force of my office to compel the Trump administration to live up to its obligations to the law and the people of New York.”
Schneiderman's coalition also includes California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and New York City. They say the White House is violating both the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act and Administrative Procedures Act by delaying the effective date of final energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans, as well as stalling the final standards for compressors, walk-in coolers and freezers, power supply equipment, portable air conditioners, and commercial boilers.
The new rules would set standards expected to save consumers more than $11 billion in net savings over 30 years. Some manufacturers, however, worry the new standards would drive up costs, The Hill reports.
The environmental groups threatening to sue are largely the same group that filed another lawsuit last week, challenging the DOE’s move to pull back efficiency standards for ceiling fans that were published in January. They say the new standard will cut the energy use of new fans by more than 25%, saving consumers up to $12 billion.
"If the Trump administration continues blocking these common sense measures that will help people across the country, we’ll take them to court," Earthjustice attorney Timothy Ballo said in a statement.
Though they are relatively low-profile regulations, efficiency advocates say appliance standards have a big aggregate effect on power demand and consumer savings. The regulations proposed by the Obama administration aimed to save 3 billion metric tons of carbon emissions by 2030, and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP) estimates average American consumers saved $500 on their yearly electrical costs in 2015 thanks to more efficient appliances.