Attorney General Becerra: Department of Energy Proposal to Revise Energy Efficiency Rulemaking Process Will Cost Consumers
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, leading a coalition of 15 attorneys general and the City of New York, filed a comment letter calling on the Department of Energy (DOE) to withdraw its proposal to revise its Process Rule. Adopted in 1996, the rule provides guidance and transparency to the public and ensures DOE meets an Energy Policy Conservation Act (EPCA) mandate to create energy conservation standards that benefit the public in a timely manner. In the letter, the coalition asserts that the revisions proposed by DOE would unlawfully impede DOE’s energy efficiency rulemaking and are contrary to energy efficiency requirements under the EPCA. DOE’s proposed revision would create extra steps and thresholds as part of the rulemaking process to make adoption of energy efficiency standards more difficult.
“Energy efficiency standards are now the rule, not the exception in America. That’s because they are good for the environment and good for consumers,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The Department of Energy’s plan to revise the Process Rule will create unnecessary roadblocks to cost savings for everyday Americans. We urge DOE to withdraw this feeble proposal that caters to the old way of doing business over the needs of American families.”
DOE’s long-standing energy efficiency program has resulted in substantial economic and environmental benefits, with projected consumer savings of more than $2 trillion and 2.6 billion tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions. DOE has achieved many of these benefits through rulemaking under the Process Rule. But DOE’s proposed revisions create a number of roadblocks to adopt and review standards. The proposed rule would eliminate proven standards by setting new, unreasonably high energy savings thresholds. That is contrary to the EPCA and would result in the loss of future energy savings and the associated environmental benefits. In addition, DOE’s proposal would make the Process Rule binding, giving industry opportunities to sue the agency if it adopts standards seen by industry as too stringent or if it reasonably deviates from the Process Rule to further EPCA’s purposes.
In the letter, the coalition points out a number of concerns with DOE’s proposal to revise the rule:
- The revisions would create procedural hurdles that impede DOE’s energy efficiency rulemaking process;
- Under the proposal, DOE improperly defers to private industry by ignoring the incremental benefits of appropriate energy efficiency rules and presuming industry test procedures satisfy the requirements of EPCA;
- The proposal would undermine DOE’s substantive decision making in rulemaking, reducing the public benefits secured through energy conservation standards and disregarding potential energy savings;
- Changes to the rule’s objectives are unlawful under the Administrative Procedure Act; and
- DOE violates the National Environmental Policy Act, requiring agencies to assess the environmental consequences of actions before they are undertaken.
Joining Attorney General Becerra in filing the letter are the Attorneys General of Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia; and the City of New York.
A copy of the letter is available here.