Attorney General Becerra Continues Fight to Protect Energy Efficiency Standards for Household Appliances

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today led a coalition of 15 attorneys general in filing a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s final rule creating new, unnecessary classes of clothes washers and dryers based on cycle time. The rule, which purports to create new product classes but assigns no energy efficiency standards at all, builds on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) ongoing effort under the Trump Administration, to undermine the energy efficiency program by allowing carve-outs that eviscerate existing standards. In today’s lawsuit, the coalition will argue that the rule violates the Energy Policy Conservation Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.

“The Trump Administration is spending its final days jamming through new policies that no one asked for and no one wants,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Energy efficiency standards are a no-brainer – they put money back into consumers' pockets and reduce pollution to our environment. That’s why we’re fighting back against the Trump Administration's latest half-baked scheme to exclude certain washers and dryers from existing standards. We won’t stand by while the Trump Administration implements policies that are going to cost Americans money down the line.”

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act directs DOE to establish energy efficiency standards covering most major household products, including washers and dryers. DOE’s long-standing energy efficiency program has resulted in substantial economic and environmental benefits, with more than $2 trillion in projected consumer savings and 2.6 billion tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The Energy Policy Conservation Act’s anti-backsliding provision prohibits DOE from “prescrib[ing] any amended standard which increases the maximum allowable energy use . . . of a covered product.”

Under the Trump Administration, DOE has repeatedly acted to obstruct commonsense energy efficiency regulations, preferring instead to do the bidding of industry interests and anti-regulatory organizations. With its final rule creating new classes of washers and dryers, DOE attempts to use the same, shoddy reasoning to justify exempting these appliances from existing energy efficiency standards as it did with short-cycle dishwashers. In the lawsuit, the coalition intends to argue that the final rule:

  • Violates Energy Policy Conservation Act’s anti-backsliding provision;
  • Fails to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act by invoking an inapplicable categorical exclusion to avoid conducting an environmental review; and
  • Is arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act.  

Attorney General Becerra has been a stalwart defender of energy efficiency standards since taking office. Last year, Attorney General Becerra joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general and the City of New York in filing a lawsuit challenging DOE’s failure to review and amend energy efficiency standards for 25 categories of consumer and commercial or industrial products. Earlier in the year, he led a multistate coalition in filing a comment letter criticizing DOE for wasting resources on a prioritization process for its energy efficiency rulemakings, while neglecting its statutory duties to complete those rulemakings. Instead of working to meet these deadlines, DOE has expended its resources on various unlawful discretionary actions that Attorney General Becerra is currently challenging in court or has opposed in public comments, including its rescission of the general service lamp definition, attempt to creation of a new, unnecessary class of dishwashers, and Process Rule revisions, as well as its misguided proposal regarding residential furnaces and commercial water heaters.  

Attorney General Becerra is joined by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the City of New York in filing the lawsuit. 

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

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