AG Becerra Condemns Dept. of Energy Proposal Undermining Energy Efficiency Standards

SACRAMENTO, Sept. 10, 2019 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has joined a multistate coalition of 13 attorneys general and the City of New York calling on the Department of Energy (DOE) to withdraw its proposal to roll back energy efficiency standards for residential gas furnaces and commercial water heaters. In its comment letter, the coalition describes how the proposed rule would unlawfully delay the adoption of energy efficiency goals, undermine state and local energy policy, and increase economic and environmental costs. The DOE proposal — the result of an October 2018 request by the gas industry — would exclude out-of-date products that waste energy from energy efficiency standards. The proposal would deny consumers and businesses energy savings of up to $30.2 billion over the next 30 years.

“The DOE proposal is nothing more than an attempt to appease the fossil fuel industry by loosening scientifically-proven standards at the expense of hardworking families and businesses,” said Attorney General Becerra. “The Trump Administration must move on from its obsession with high-pollution relics and stop turning a blind eye to current, efficient technology. We are dedicated to defending energy efficiency standards and technologies that benefit Californians and our environment.”

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The DOE proposal attempts to remove the standards for older, inefficient product designs for residential furnaces and commercial water heaters, as well as other gas products, and would further and unlawfully delay an improvement of efficiency standards. Contrary to law and the agency’s mission, DOE’s proposal would push consumers and businesses toward inefficient technologies and higher costs for the benefit of the gas industry. DOE’s proposal would deny consumers and businesses projected energy savings over a 30-year-period of up to $30.2 billion for furnaces and up to $6.8 billion for commercial water heaters.

In their letter, the attorneys general argue that DOE’s proposal contradicts the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 and the agency’s previous interpretation of the law, making the proposal arbitrary and capricious and contrary to law. DOE’s new rule is based on arguments that were previously addressed and rejected during the initial rulemaking process. Yet the agency provides no statement explaining why its previously stated rationale is no longer valid. Further, the coalition argues that the proposed interpretive rule will interfere with state and local climate goals. With the adoption of the new rule, inefficient appliances will be allowed to stay on the market, reducing the economic and environmental benefits of using energy efficient appliances, and making local and state efficiency targets more difficult to achieve.

Attorney General Becerra filed the comment letter as part of a coalition including the attorneys general of New York, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia; and the City of New York.

Attorney General Becerra is dedicated to protecting energy efficiency measures that benefit our people and our planet. In May, he led a coalition of 16 attorneys general and the City of New York in filing a comment letter opposing the DOE proposal to overturn energy efficiency requirements for certain lightbulbs. Later that month, Attorney General Becerra led a coalition of 15 attorneys general and the City of New York in filing a comment letter calling on the DOE to withdraw its proposal to revise its Process Rule, an alteration that would create extra steps and thresholds in the rulemaking process, making adoption of energy efficiency standards more difficult.

A copy of the filed comment can be found here.