Energy Conservation Standards for Consumer Products

The Environmental & Energy Law Program is tracking the environmental regulatory rollbacks of the Trump administration. Click here for the list of rules we are following

Why it Matters

The Department of Energy (DOE) sets energy efficiency standards for many consumer products. This reduces the energy use, cost, and greenhouse gas emissions of appliances sold in the US.

Current Status

Some efficiency standards finalized at the end of the Obama Administration have effective dates and are proceeding. Future public hearings and comment periods for efficiency standards should be posted hereIn June, 2017 multiple states and environmental groups sued DOE over its failure to finalize standards for portable air conditioners, air compressors, commercial boilers, and uninterruptible power supplies (a type of battery charger). On February 15, 2018 a federal court gave DOE 28 days to publish standards for these four items, then gave them another 28 days on March 14, 2018.

DOE has announced a request for information on a proposal to modify its process for developing appliance standards. The comment period for this was open until March 5, 2018. DOE has  also published a request for information on an evaluation of “the potential advantages and disadvantages of additional flexibilities” in the appliance energy efficiency standards program. They expressed particular interest in market-based options. This comment period has closed.

History

In August 2016, DOE issued its semi-annual report to Congress, describing recently published and upcoming efficiency standards. DOE has published a report every six months since the Energy Policy Act of 2005 first required this.

In December, 2016 the Obama administration DOE posted final energy efficiency standards for uninterruptible power supplies, walk-in freezers, portable air conditioners, compressors, and commercial boilers. DOE then had 45 days to publish a confirmation of effective date of these standards in the federal register, which would finalize them, but the Trump administration DOE failed to do so for each of these.

On January 6, 2017 DOE posted final energy efficiency standards for residential central air conditioners and heat pumps. DOE then had 45 days to publish a confirmation of effective date of these standards in the federal register, which would finalize them, but failed to do so.

On January 19, 2017 DOE posted final energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans. DOE then had 45 days to publish a confirmation of effective date of these standards in the federal register, which would finalize them, but failed to do so.

Trump Era

On January 31, 2017 DOE published notice in the Federal Register that it was delaying the final ceiling fan standard effective date for 60 days in order to review the rule.

Also on January 31, 2017 DOE published notice that it was delaying the walk-in freezer standards effective date to March 21, 2017. 

On March 21, 2017 DOE further delayed the walk-in freezer effective date to June 26, 2017.

On March 31, 2017 nine states, New York City, and a Pennsylvania regulator petitioned the Second Circuit over the Trump Administration’s failure to finalize the ceiling fan efficiency standards.

On April 3, 2017 a coalition of environmental groups notified DOE they would sue in 60 days over its failure to finalize standards for compressors, uninterruptible power supplies, walk-in coolers and freezers, portable air conditioners, and commercial packaged boilers

On June 13, 2017 Washington, California, and nine other states petitioned the US District Court for the Northern District of California over DOE’s failure to finalize efficiency standards for portable air conditioners, air compressors, commercial boilers, walk-in freezers, and uninterruptible power supplies. A coalition of environmental groups also filed suit over these same standards on this day.

DOE published a notice on May 24, 2017 that it would finalize the original ceiling fan rule, including original effective dates, without change.

On May 26, 2017 DOE announced it would finalize the standards and set compliance dates residential central air conditioners and heat pumps.

On July 10, 2017 DOE finalized standards for walk-in freezers.

DOE did not appear to publish its required semi-annual reports on efficiency standards in February or August of 2017.

On November 28, 2017 DOE issued a request for information and notice of public meeting. Citing Executive Orders 13771 (Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs) and 13777 (Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda), DOE seeks “comments and information from interested parties to assist DOE in identifying potential modifications to its ‘Process Rule’ for the development of appliance standards.” The public meeting was held on January 9, 2018. The comment period for this was open until March 5, 2018.

Also on November 28, 2017 DOE issued a request for information on an evaluation of “the potential advantages and disadvantages of additional flexibilities” in the appliance energy efficiency standards program. They expressed particular interest in market-based options. This comment period has closed.

On February 15, 2018 a the US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled DOE must publish standards for portable air conditioners, air compressors, commercial packaged boilers, and uninterruptible power supplies within 28 days, then gave them another 28 days on March 14, 2018 so they could file a new motion to claim harm to manufacturers or file for a stay from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

For More Information

For more on the history of these rules see their entry in the Columbia University Sabin Center for Climate Change Law’s database. Also see Sabin’s Climate Deregulation Tracker for additional updates.

 

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