Green groups 'stunned' by fed decision not to hold hearing on energy efficiency rule

Green groups 'stunned' by fed decision not to hold hearing on energy efficiency rule

An energy efficiency group is urging the Trump administration to reconsider its decision to deny holding a public hearing on a proposal that would give manufacturers more authority to determine the energy efficiency level of their appliances.

The Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP) sent a letter to the Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday asking the agency to reconsider its rejection from last month, which the group said caught them off guard.

“We were stunned. We are not aware of any prior case where DOE has refused to hold a public meeting on an important proposed rule,” the group said in the letterwhich was signed by a several energy efficiency and environmental groups.

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“Staff informed us they had ‘polled’ other stakeholders who were ‘ambivalent’ about the need for a public meeting but would not reveal which other stakeholders they had contacted,” it wrote.

The department suggested a private meeting with the group, a move ASAP said lacked transparency.

“Private meetings are no substitute for open public meetings led by the agency, subject to notice and participation by any person, and recorded with a transcript,” the groups wrote.

The Energy Department currently sets forth how companies must test their products to determine whether they meet energy efficiency standards, but under a new proposal, companies would be able to develop their own testing procedures.

The rule would apply to a wide range of appliances, such as refrigerator motors, air conditioners and lightbulbs.

The groups argue the change would essentially let manufacturers write their own rules for testing their products — something that could make certain items seem more energy efficient than they really are and give them a boost over the competition.

Andrew deLaski, executive director of ASAP, told The Hill previously it was unclear why DOE was proposing the rule or what the effect would be.

"DOE staff has repeatedly offered to meet with these requestors and receive their input," a spokesman told The Hill in an email. "We will respond to their letter through the appropriate, official channels to again offer a meeting. DOE remains committed to providing an opportunity for stakeholders to learn more about its proposed rules, and DOE staff is available to meet with stakeholders who have questions regarding our rulemakings."

"DOE’s proposal does not amend any test procedure or make any exemptions; rather, it streamlines the existing process for granting temporary waivers for innovative products that don’t fit within our prescribed test methods. These waivers undergo technical review and always require manufacturers to continue testing their products for compliance with energy efficiency standards."