Trump Administration Illegally Delayed 4 Efficiency Standards

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Posted: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 4:00 am

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- A federal judge ruled the Trump administration illegally stalled four energy efficiency standards that could save U.S. households and businesses at least $8 billion, agreeing with the Natural Resources Defense Council, other public interest groups, 11 states, and the city of New York that the year-long delay was unwarranted.

"The decision sends an unmistakable message that the Trump administration can’t flout the law. These four commonsense national energy efficiency standards went through a rigorous and legally required rulemaking process, a procedure that dates back to President Reagan" said Kit Kennedy, senior director of the Climate and Clean Energy Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The Trump administration’s baffling decision to block the final procedural step could have cost Americans $8 billion in higher energy bills and created uncertainty for U.S. manufacturers. This ruling reaffirms that the Trump administration must follow the laws designed to ensure America’s consumers and businesses aren’t forced to pay needlessly higher energy bills."

The case involved delayed U.S. Department of Energy standards for portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, air compressors used in a variety of commercial and industrial applications, and packaged boilers that heat one-fourth of the nation’s commercial space. Together, they could save U.S. consumers $8.4 billion and avoid a whopping 99 million metric tons of carbon pollution over the next 30 years, equal to powering 10.6 million U.S. homes annually.

The original lawsuit also included the efficiency standard for walk-in coolers and freezers, but it has since been published in the Federal Register, the final step required for it to go into effect.

The court ruling finds that the Department of Energy’s failure to publish the standards in the Federal Register, a final step needed to allow the standards to take effect, was "a violation of the Department’s duties" under federal law. The court ordered the Trump administration to publish the long-delayed standards within 28 days.

NRDC and Earthjustice, representing the Sierra Club, the Consumer Federation of America, and Texas Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy, sent a letter on April 3, 2017, threatening to sue the DOE if it did not release the energy efficiency standards by publishing them in the Federal Register within 60 days. When DOE did not do so, the groups filed suit on June 13, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. A separate lawsuit was filed by the attorney generals for California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the city of New York.

The efficiency standards were finalized and signed in December 2016 but not immediately published in the Federal Register as DOE rules require a 45-day "error correction" period to address any minor typographic or computational errors. That period ended in early 2017, but the signed rules have yet to be published to make them effective, despite specific legal requirements to do so, the groups argued. The only corrections requested were for the commercial boiler standard, but the groups argued DOE still had a legal duty to publish the standard, along with any necessary corrections.

SOURCE: Natural Resources Defense Council

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