Energy & Environment

Biden Energy Dept orders sweeping review of Trump energy rules

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The Biden administration will review several of the Trump administration’s most controversial energy rules, teeing up a possible reversal of policies that eased or erased efficiency regulations for lightbulbs, showerheads and more.

A Friday list from the Department of Energy (DOE) notified the White House of a number of Trump-era policies the department will weigh suspending, revising or rescinding. The move follows a Day 1 order from President Biden mandating a sweeping review of Trump’s environmental policies.

On the list are a number of pet policies of Trump, who often complained about low flow fixtures and LED lightbulbs on the campaign trail.

One such rule eliminated efficiency standards for about half the bulbs on the market, pushing continued use of less-efficient bulbs expected to cost the average household more than $100 a year and create more pollution as utilities produce energy that otherwise would not be needed. 

“The new bulb is many times more expensive, and, I hate to say it, it doesn’t make you look as good,” Trump said during a White House meeting focused on deregulation efforts shortly after the rule was finalized.

“Of course, being a vain person that’s very important to me,” he added, prompting laughter in the room. “It gives you an orange look. I don’t want an orange look. Has anyone noticed that?”

Another rule targeted by the Biden administration changes the definition of a showerhead, essentially allowing different components within the device to count as individual fixtures, sidestepping requirements that allow no more than 2.5 gallons to flow through per minute.

The rule was lambasted by consumer groups who said customers would see an uptick in water and energy bills. 

Trump also repeatedly brought up his distaste for energy-efficient showerheads, toilets and even lightbulbs and dishwashers.

“Showerheads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out. You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair — I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect,” he said to laughter at an event in July. 

The DOE process doesn’t guarantee rules will be reversed and will instead kick off a new notice and comment period 

“President Biden’s executive order directed the Administration to pursue policies — guided by science — that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change. By reviewing these rules and regulations, the Department of Energy will determine whether policy changes are necessary to lower Americans’ energy bills, create manufacturing jobs in the U.S., and cut down on polluting carbon emissions,” Kathleen Hogan, acting under secretary for science and energy, said in a statement.

DOE’s list also includes new rules for dishwashers, washing machines and dryers that created a new class of quick cycle products, allowing manufacturers to create new products that weren’t subject to existing energy efficiency regulations.

“Consumers didn’t ask for this and consumers won’t benefit from it, in part because washing machines already have quick cycles,” David Friedman, vice president of advocacy at Consumer Reports and a former DOE official during the Obama administration, said when the rule was first proposed.

It also initiates a review of the Trump administration’s so-called test procedure rule, which allowed companies to develop their own methods for testing the energy efficiency of their products.

“The new rule opens the door to unscrupulous manufacturers skirting the rules and selling products that use more energy than competing products that follow the rules,” Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, said at the time. 

Tags Joe Biden lightbulb showerhead

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