SACRAMENTO October 11, 2019 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra yesterday announced a win against the Department of Energy (DOE) with a court decision affirming DOE’s obligation to publish its finalized energy efficiency standards. This decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms a previous order by the district court.
“Today’s ruling rightfully holds the Trump Administration accountable for failing to publish energy efficiency standards as required by law and the court,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We applaud this decision upholding the order that compels the Trump Administration to commit to standards that will save consumers money and protect both public health and the environment. Energy efficiency standards are a vital tool in our efforts to reduce energy consumption and alleviate the effects of climate change, the greatest existential threat of our time.”
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The energy efficiency standards were approved by the Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency at the DOE in December 2016. The standards were then required to undergo two procedural steps. The standards were required to be subjected to a 45-day period for submission of correction requests and then submitted for publication in the Federal Register, making them legally enforceable. However, the DOE only completed the first step, and failed to publish its energy efficiency standards. Attorney General Becerra successfully co-led a coalition suing the DOE in 2017 for failing to comply with the law and publish its finalized standards in the Federal Register. The District Court agreed with California and its co-plaintiffs and ordered DOE to submit the rules for publication. DOE appealed the decision and the court’s order was halted pending a ruling by the Ninth Circuit. With today’s ruling, the court affirms DOE’s obligation to publish the standards in the Federal Register.
Over a 30-year period, these energy efficiency standards will save consumers an estimated $8.4 billion and are estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 98.8 million tons. That is comparable to taking more than 21 million cars off the road for one year. In the lawsuit, the States confirmed their significant interests in increased energy efficiency and reduced energy use in order to protect their populations and environments. The coalition of attorneys general highlighted the commitment of the States to compel the Trump Administration to adhere to the law and publish these energy efficient standards.
California Attorney General Becerra and New York Attorney General James were joined in this lawsuit by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia, along with the California Energy Commission and the City of New York.