13 states, green groups sue Trump administration over energy efficiency rollback

13 states, green groups sue Trump administration over energy efficiency rollback

Thirteen states and several environmental groups filed separate lawsuits against the Trump administration on Tuesday seeking to block a rule they say will impede efforts to make a number of products more energy-efficient.

The rule finalized by the Department of Energy (DOE) in January begins the lengthy process of updating standards for appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners only if the new standards provide a 10 percent improvement over existing ones.

But critics say even single-digit improvements in energy efficiency can collectively save consumers billions of dollars on utility bills while helping to avoid excess pollution.

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“The Trump Administration is irresponsibly rewriting a rule that helps consumers save money and decreases pollution to our environment,” California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Park Police chief insists tear gas wasn't used despite reports| Energy headquarters to reopen next week OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump official violated ethics rules in seeking EPA job for relative, watchdog finds| Trump administration aims to buy uranium for reserve 'as soon as possible,' official says| 18 states fight conservative think tank effort to freeze fue 18 states fight conservative think tank effort to freeze fuel efficiency standards MORE (D) said in a release announcing one of the lawsuits.

“Americans sheltering in place are already struggling with higher electricity bills, they shouldn’t have to worry about the federal government jacking up the price by blocking standards that make lightbulbs, refrigerators, and washing machines cheaper to run,” he added.

A DOE analysis produced under the Obama administration estimated the so-called process rule now being rolled back would save 3 billion metric tons of carbon pollution by 2030.

“Household and business budgets will feel the harsh blow, as will the environment, because of this DOE’s relentless efforts to undermine the energy efficiency standards program and benefit industry,” the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a release announcing its suit, filed on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Consumer Federation of America as well.

The DOE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Trump administration has rolled back other energy efficiency rules as well, most notably scrapping energy efficiency rules for lightbulbs that critics warned would make the U.S. a dumping ground for costly halogen bulbs.

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But the DOE argued that consumers should be free to make their own choices. 

“This rule does not prevent consumers from buying the lamps they desire, including efficient options,” the agency wrote in the rule. “The market is successfully transitioning to LEDs regardless of government regulation. Consumers are clearly taking advantage of the energy savings provided by LEDs.”  

The DOE has also forwarded plans that would weaken the energy efficiency standards for dishwashers.

California’s suit was joined by Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont and Washington as well as the cities of New York and the District of Columbia.