Energy & Environment

State attorneys general challenge Trump-era rollback of energy efficiency standards

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Twelve state attorneys general, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), on Tuesday filed a petition for review to eliminate a provision in Energy Department efficiency standards they say allows for inefficient residential furnaces and commercial water heaters.

The Trump administration issued the rules during its final week. The provision treats heaters that use less efficient, noncondensing venting as a separate class of products requiring separate regulations. The Energy Department has already identified both rules as contradicting environmental executive orders signed by the president, according to James’s office.

The Energy Department issued a proposed interpretive rule earlier in the Trump administration arguing the inefficient technology in question was a “feature” and that an industry standard alone could not phase out its use. James was among the state attorneys general who filed comments in September 2019 pushing back against this interpretation of the law.

“Restoring the energy efficiency regulations is one of the most effective ways to fight climate change, save consumers money, and create jobs,” James said in a statement. “However, in its deregulatory fever, the Trump administration sought to dismantle our nation’s highly successful energy conservation program.”

“By contrast, the Biden administration recognizes the tremendous value that energy efficiency standards have to public health, our environment, and the pocketbooks of consumers,” she continued. “We are taking this action today to support President Biden’s sincere efforts to restore these critically important standards.”

James is in joined the lawsuit by the attorneys general of California, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Attorneys general for New York City and the District of Columbia also joined the challenge.

“State attorneys general, together with consumer and environmental advocates, have a solid case that the department’s logic here does not comport with the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The court should throw cold water on this rule,” Bethany Davis Noll, executive director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center at the New York University School of Law, said in a statement.

The Hill has reached out to the Department of Energy for comment.

Tags energy efficiency Energy policy Joe Biden Letitia James

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