Democratic attorneys general and environmentalists are suing the Trump administration for delaying the implementation of federal energy efficiency regulations for household appliances and other equipment.
Democrats and activists argue the Energy Department violated the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) by delaying regulations for five types of equipment, including air conditioners, ceiling fans and walk-in coolers and freezers.
“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,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who’s leading a coalition of Democratic-held states and New York City.
President Donald Trump issued a freeze on new regulations upon taking office, and federal agencies have delayed implementing finalized rules by not sending them to Federal Register for publication. The Energy Department delayed energy efficiency regulations on ceiling fans, for example, in late March. The rule will now go into effect at the end of September.
The Natural Resources Defense (NRDC) council argued the “standards will yield more than $11 billion in consumer net-present-value savings over 30 years of shipments” in a notice of intent to sue filed Monday.
NRDC leads a coalition of environmental activists suing the Trump administration over its delaying of ceiling fan regulations. The coalition said it will take further legal action if it delays other energy efficiency rules.
Democrats and environmentalists argue energy conservation measures will reduce carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming and save consumers money. The Obama administration implemented the rules as part of the former president’s “Climate Action Plan.”
Republicans have long been critical of Energy Department efficiency regulations, and many economists have argued such rules don’t make much of a difference on overall energy consumption. Efficiency regulations also increase appliance prices, but proponents argue the increased upfront cost is more than outweighed by increased energy savings over time. DOE’s ceiling fan rule is expected to cost $4.4 billion.
Trump promised to roll back Obama-era global warming regulations, which means energy efficiency rules could be in his sites for repeal.
Trump recently signed an executive order rolling back Environmental Protection Agency regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants. The order also rescinded a moratorium on new coal mining leases on federal land and Obama-era climate directives.
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