Attorney General Becerra Files Lawsuit Challenging Trump Administration Rule Easing Manufacturer Compliance Requirements for Energy Efficiency Standards

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

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, as part of a multistate coalition, filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s final rule allowing manufacturers to set their own test procedures for compliance with energy efficiency standards. Test procedure regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) specify how a product must be tested to determine its compliance with energy efficiency standards. The final rule seeks to undermine this process by requiring the DOE to automatically grant interim waiver applications after 30 days and removing the one-year deadline for making a permanent waiver determination, opening the door for manufacturers to operate indefinitely without showing the efficiency of their products. In the lawsuit, the coalition intends to argue that the rule violates the Energy Policy and Conservation Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

“This bald-faced attempt to undermine energy efficiency standards benefits no one except for the industry interests the Trump Administration seems so determined to pander to,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Every year, our nation’s energy efficiency program saves consumers billions of dollars – savings that are all the more essential as hardworking families struggle to pay their bills during the current economic crisis. Today’s lawsuit should serve as a warning – day 1 or day 1460, we won’t let the Trump Administration’s unlawful actions go unchecked.” 

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act directs the DOE to establish energy efficiency standards covering most major household products and industrial equipment. The 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 Trump Administration’s new interim waiver process undermines this energy efficiency program to the detriment of consumers and product manufacturers who comply with existing compliance test procedures. The final rule effectively allows any manufacturer, even one that lacks any legitimate basis to seek a waiver, to sell non-compliant products for at least half a year, and perhaps indefinitely. In doing so, the Trump Administration will saddle consumers and businesses with the costs associated with potentially long-lived products that do not meet the DOE’s energy efficiency standards. In today’s lawsuit, the coalition intends to argue that the rule exceeds the DOE’s statutory authority, is arbitrary and capricious, and is otherwise contrary to the law.

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 the 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 the 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, the 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 create 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 joins the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Vermont, and the District of Columbia, as well as the City of New York. 

A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

# # #