Energy Dept. unveils new efficiency regs

The Obama administration proposed a pair of energy efficiency regulations Thursday for certain appliances it says will slash energy bills and carbon emissions.

The rules, which had been under review at the White House Office of Management and Budget for nearly two years, would affect commercial refrigeration equipment such as “restaurant-size fridges” and walk-in coolers and freezers, White House climate and energy adviser Heather Zichal said in a blog post that announced the proposals.

“These critical steps bolster the energy productivity of our economy, cut energy costs for American families and businesses, and leave a healthier planet for future generations,” Zichal wrote of the administration’s energy efficiency efforts.

All told, the two rules floated Thursday would shave energy spending by $28 billion and curtail carbon pollution by 350 million metric tons through the next 30 years, the Energy Department estimated.

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The draft regulations build on several other recent efficiency efforts at the department.

The efficiency push is part of President Obama’s second-term climate plan. The initiative relies on strengthening regulations to curb carbon emissions, a tactic that has rankled Republicans who say the approach will damage the economy.

Democrats, however, have praised the president for taking action while Congress is gridlocked on climate change.

"With Congress still paralyzed by the influence of the big carbon polluters, these are exactly the kind of actions the Administration should take to fight back against climate change," Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said in a statement.