Trump Administration Slapped With Lawsuits Over Blocked Energy Efficiency Standards

‘By blocking these common sense standards, the administration is reversing progress in cleaning the air we breathe and fighting climate change’

By Nika Knight, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-3-2017

Eric Schneiderman. Photo: True News (The Bund)

A coalition of state attorneys general—led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman—announced plans Monday to file a lawsuit against the Department of Energy (DOE) under President Donald Trump for blocking Obama-era energy efficiency standards for a variety of commercial and consumer products.

“Energy efficiency standards are vital to public health, our environment, and consumers. This is yet another example of how the Trump administration’s polluter-first energy policy has real and harmful impacts on the public health, environment—and pocketbooks—of New Yorkers,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

Reuters noted that the “challenge came after the U.S. Department of Energy last month set plans to delay rules proposed under the Obama administration, [which were] intended to improve the efficiency of several consumer and commercial products.”

Schneiderman’s office explained that the lawsuit charges “that the Trump DOE is violating both the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) and Administrative Procedures Act (APA) in the following ways:”

  • delaying the effective date of final energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans.
  • stalling the final standards for compressors, walk-in coolers and freezers, power supply equipment, portable air conditioners, and commercial boilers, by failing to publish them in the Federal Register.

Included in the suit are the state attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the City of New York.

It’s not the only lawsuit over energy efficiency standards. Also on Monday, the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Earthjustice announced (pdf) a plan to slap the Energy Department with a separate lawsuit.

“If the Trump Administration continues blocking these common sense measures that will help people across the country, we’ll take them to court,” Earthjustice attorney Timothy Ballo said. “It is past time for the DOE to take the simple action of publishing these completed rules so we can all start to reap the benefits.”

In a statement, Earthjustice explained the myriad benefits of enacting the new energy efficiency standards:

Energy efficiency is the most affordable and effective solution to America’s energy problems. Appliance and equipment efficiency standards save energy, increase the reliability of the electricity grid, reduce consumer energy bills, and decrease pollution. According to DOE projections, the standards prescribed by the rules will save about three percent of all the energy used in the United States for all purposes in a year—over a 30-year period. These energy savings will save consumers money on their utility bills, yielding more than $11 billion in net savings over 30 years.

The standards will also enhance public health by reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by more than 25 million metric tons by 2030—equivalent to the emissions generated by the annual electricity use of more than three million U.S homes. Additionally, they will reduce emissions of other harmful air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, by hundreds of thousands of tons.

Schneiderman made similar arguments:

“By blocking these common sense standards, the administration is reversing progress in cleaning the air we breathe and fighting climate change—and denying consumers and businesses some $24 billion in savings,” said Schneiderman. “I will continue to use the full force of my office to compel the Trump administration to live up to its obligations to the law and the people of New York.”

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