Overnight Energy & Environment

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Energy issues rule allowing companies to develop own efficiency tests for products | GOP lawmakers push back on Federal Reserve’s climate risk efforts


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GETTING ENERGIZED: The Department of Energy (DOE) on Thursday finalized a rule that allows companies to develop their own methods for testing the energy efficiency of their products.

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

Any petition would also automatically be granted if the agency does not respond in 45 days.

Consumer groups called the rule an invitation for abuse, comparing it to the scheme developed by Volkswagen to skirt emissions standards.

“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 in a statement. 

“Under no conditions should a manufacturer be waived from federal test procedure requirements simply by the passage of time,” he continued, adding that companies seeking to use different testing methods should have to get an affirmative response from the agency.

The rule would apply to everything from refrigerator motors to air conditioners to lightbulbs.

Major manufacturers of lighting, home appliances and plumbing products were largely supportive of the plan when it was first proposed with just a 30-day window for DOE to respond, arguing the timeline would provide certainty to companies and speed up operations at the agency, according to a joint letter from associations representing the three industries.

Read more about the new rule here

FED UP: A group of 47 Republican lawmakers raised concerns to the Federal Reserve about steps to mitigate or prepare for the financial impacts of climate change. 

The letter, spearheaded by Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) said the U.S. central bank should be cautious in deciding whether to implement climate change “stress tests” on banks, because of the potential impacts on the oil and gas industries. 

“Introducing climate change scenarios into stress tests could accelerate  the ill-advised pattern of “de-banking” legally operating businesses in industries, such as coal and oil and gas,” it said. “Politicizing access to capital and choking off funding to industries that millions of Americans rely on is unacceptable, especially in times of economic and financial uncertainty.”

Stress tests are analyses aimed at ascertaining whether banks are prepared for potential economic shocks. 

The lawmakers also raised issues with the methodology and data that would be used in climate scenarios during these tests. 

They additionally expressed concern about the Fed’s decision to request to join a group of government banks that collaborate on managing the financial risks from climate change. 

Fed Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles told the Senate Banking Committee that the bank has sought membership with the group, called the Network for Greening the Financial System. 

And asked in February whether he would institute a climate stress test during a House hearing, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said he would look at a test being done by the Bank of England. 

“We’re monitoring what the Bank of England is doing,” he said. “We haven’t made a decision to proceed with something like that.”

At the same hearing, he also said that climate change plays into the Fed’s work because of “the public’s very reasonable expectation that we would make sure that the financial sector, the banks or the utilities that we supervise, are resilient against the longer-term risks from climate change.”

Read more about the letter here.



And the horse you rode in on… “Former Secretary Ryan Zinke left office under legal investigation, and his new portrait is entirely consistent with his smug, unethical, condescending tenure at the Interior Department,” House Natural Resources Chair Raul Grijalva (D-A.Z.) said after former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s portrait was unveiled yesterday.

“Setting his formal portrait at Bears Ears National Monument, which he happily dismantled despite the wishes of Native Americans around the country, is nothing more than an intentional final insult to tribes he disrespected from the moment he took office. This portrait is a petty monument to a petty man, and we can only look forward to a court ruling that reverses the damage he did to the landscape he has now abused twice.”

Full coverage … It’s a political dodge,” Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) said of the “all of the above” phrase that politicians often tout to show support for a wide array of energy sources — including fossil fuels.

“One of a whole class of terms that folks in my line of work use to provide generalized answers to specific questions that provide enough cover for everyone on all sides of an issue to think you are agreeing with them without actually saying anything.”

A farewell speech… “It wasn’t easy to decide to voluntarily leave this wonderful institution, but I’d long ago decided I didn’t want to get voted out or carried out. I was confident I’d win re-election and my health is good, so I leave on my own terms, feeling good about that which I’ve helped improve in the lives of those who entrusted me election-after-election,” retiring Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said in his farewell speech on the House floor yesterday.



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Tags Andy Barr Greg Walden Ryan Zinke Sean Casten

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