Attorney General Becerra Fights to Protect Cost-Saving Energy Efficiency Standards for Consumers and Small Businesses

Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today joined a lawsuit challenging two final rules promulgated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) during the final days of the Trump Administration as part of its longstanding effort to undermine our nation’s energy efficiency program. The rules would protect gas-powered residential furnaces and commercial water heaters from tougher energy efficiency standards – standards that would apply if they were in the same category as electric powered products. The rules would deny consumers and businesses over $30 billion in savings over the next 30 years.

“These Trump-era rules were a last gasp attempt to enshrine outdated technology at the expense of American consumers,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Energy efficiency standards put dollars back in the pockets of hardworking families and small businesses. At the California Department of Justice, we remain dedicated to defending these cost-saving standards and technologies that benefit Californians and our environment.”

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act directs DOE to establish energy efficiency standards covering most major household products and industrial equipment. DOE’s longstanding 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. Attorney General Becerra has been a staunch defender of DOE's energy efficiency programs, leading or joining lawsuits against various unlawful actions by the previous Administration including its rescission of the general service lamp definition, creation of new, unnecessary classes of dishwashers and clothes washers and dryers, and Process Rule revisions.

The midnight rules challenged in today's lawsuit  — the result of an October 2018 request by the gas industry — withdraw proposed standards for residential furnaces and commercial water heaters and would, in effect, require separate standards for gas-powered versions of those and similar products going forward, even when electric products serving the same purpose are more efficient. DOE's rules would deny consumers and businesses projected savings of more than $30 billion in energy costs and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions of almost 160 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over a 30-year period. Attorney General Becerra, along with a similar coalition, filed a comment letter in September 2019 opposing the rule when proposed, arguing that it contradicted the Energy Policy Conservation Act and the agency’s previous interpretation of the law. 

Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of New York, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, 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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