Attorney General Becerra Criticizes Trump Administration for Misusing Resources and Failing to Meet Deadlines for the Implementation of Cost-Saving Energy Efficiency Standards

Friday, May 15, 2020
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, leading a multistate coalition, filed a comment letter criticizing the Department of Energy (DOE) for wasting resources on a prioritization process for its energy efficiency rulemakings, while neglecting its statutory duties to complete those rulemakings. Under the current administration, DOE has repeatedly failed to meet mandatory deadlines for the issuance of these regulations as part of an existing process laid out by Congress in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). Instead, DOE has devoted its resources towards unnecessary discretionary rulemakings that undermine the energy efficiency program. In the comment letter, the coalition argues that DOE must comply with EPCA’s statutory deadlines and should not expend resources on the unnecessary prioritization process and other discretionary rulemakings.

“As the American economy faces an unprecedented threat, the Trump Administration should be working double-time to secure consumers the cost-saving benefits of reduced energy consumption,” said Attorney General Becerra. “In fact, the Trump Administration is required to do this by law. Instead, it continues to propose half-baked ideas that undermine energy efficiency at the expense of our communities. The Trump playbook on delay and deception fools no one. It’s time for this Administration to just follow the law.” 

Passed in 1975, EPCA requires the DOE to create energy conservation standards that benefit the public in a timely manner. Subsequent amendments by Congress put in place processes for DOE to periodically reassess energy conservation standards and the test procedures used to demonstrate compliance with them to ensure that the products available in the United States are as energy efficient as possible. 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.  

But under the current administration, DOE’s adherence to EPCA’s deadlines has been abysmal. At present, DOE has missed 26 deadlines for energy efficiency standards and 21 for test procedures. 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 and the Process Rule revisions, as well as its misguided proposals regarding residential furnaces and commercial water heaters and dishwashers

On April 15, 2020, DOE published a rulemaking notice requesting comments on which energy efficiency rulemakings DOE should prioritize or deemphasize in its docket. However, DOE cannot legally delay or deemphasize its compliance with the mandatory statutory deadlines imposed by EPCA. In the comment letter, the coalition argues that the prioritization process improperly diverts resources away from meeting DOE’s statutory mandates. The coalition urges DOE not to squander its resources on an unnecessary prioritization process, as well as other discretionary rulemakings, but to instead proceed with the numerous overdue rulemakings for energy efficiency regulations that it has failed to complete. 

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

A copy of the comment can be found here.

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