Attorney General Becerra Calls Out Trump Administration’s Latest Attempt to Backslide on Cost-Saving Energy Efficiency Standards
SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, leading a coalition of 13 attorneys general and the City of New York, filed a comment letter calling on the Department of Energy (DOE) to withdraw its proposed rule to undermine current energy efficiency standards for residential dishwashers. The proposed rule, issued at the request of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, attempts to carve out a class of dishwashers from energy efficiency standards by creating a new, unnecessary category of dishwashers defined only by shorter cycle times. Attorney General Becerra and the coalition assert that the proposal is unlawful, hurts consumers and the environment, and is not supported by any factual need. The proposal’s correlation between cycle time and energy use is contradicted by evidence, with longer wash cycles being driven by other factors including changes in detergent formula and consumer preference for quieter machines.
“This is a sham proposal. DOE is doing the bidding of a dogmatically anti-rules institution to undermine cost-saving standards at the expense of hardworking families and businesses,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We will defend energy efficiency standards and technologies. They are our present and our future, and they benefit Californians and our environment.”
The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) directs DOE to establish energy conservation standards covering most major household products, including dishwashers. Dishwashers have been subject to energy efficiency standards since 1988 and are currently required to use no more than 307kWh/year and 5.0 gallons per cycle, a requirement which saves energy and helps households save money. DOE’s energy efficiency program has resulted in substantial economic and environmental benefits: by 2030, DOE projects the program will have resulted in more than $2 trillion dollars in cumulative utility bill savings for consumers and 2.6 billion tons in avoided carbon dioxide emissions. However, under the Trump Administration, the DOE continues to put the interest of the fossil fuel industry over the American people by failing to undertake mandatory rulemakings and instead pursuing legally and technologically unsound actions that would undermine the program. This proposal is no different.
The coalition urges DOE to withdraw its unlawful proposal on the basis that the proposal:
- Violates EPCA’s anti-backsliding provision prohibiting DOE from enacting a standard that increases energy use of a covered product. The current classes of dishwashers under the law are not limited according to cycle time, and DOE is not authorized to add a class simply to bypass the law;
- Attempts to improperly avoid review of the environmental impacts of the proposed rule as required by the National Environmental Policy Act; and
- Fails to provide sufficient justification or reasoning as required by the EPCA and the Administrative Procedure Act that different energy efficiency standards are necessary to maintain a shorter cycle in dishwashers and that this function would be a performance-enhancing feature. In fact, the proposal’s correlation between cycle time and energy use is contradicted by evidence, with longer wash cycles being driven by other factors including changes in detergent formula and consumer preference for quieter machines.
Attorney General Becerra leads a coalition including the attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia; and the City of New York.
A copy of the comment letter is available here.