Environmentalists and a coalition of Democratic-led states sued the Trump administration Tuesday for delaying Energy Department energy efficiency regulations on common appliances.
The Trump administration failed to implement the appliance regulations on time, according to the suits, which are part of a broader effort to block White House efforts to roll back Obama-era regulations. The Obama administration finalized the efficiency rules as part of its “Climate Action Plan.”
“These delays are not only baffling, they’re unnecessary and illegal,” Kit Kennedy with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said in a statement about the lawsuit.
NRDC and other environmentalists joined 11 Democratic-led states and New York City in suing the Trump administration. Eleven states, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, also sued the Trump administration in April over delaying the energy efficiency rules, saying that rules would yield “net savings to consumers and businesses of approximately $23.8 billion.”
Schneiderman also said the rules would “combine to eliminate emissions of 292 million tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide” over the next 30 years.
NRDC led a suit against the Trump administration in April for delaying energy efficiency rules for ceiling fans. NRDC said that the ceiling fan rule would “yield more than $11 billion in consumer net-present-value savings over 30 years of shipments.”
The Obama administration finalized the rules in December 2016, but they weren’t immediately published in the Federal Register. The Energy Department has a 45-day lag time for its rules to correct any errors in the release, but the Trump administration never published the rules once the 45-day period ended.
“All five rules have gone through a rigorous and legally required rulemaking process with ample opportunity for input,” Kennedy said. “We’re standing up today for American families and businesses. These delays are hurting their budgets and creating uncertainty for U.S. manufacturers that need to make critical decisions about their product lines.”
President Donald Trump pledged to repeal Obama-era climate rules.
The Energy Department delayed rules for portable air conditioners, emergency backup power sources, air compressors, commercial boilers and walk-in coolers and freezers. Critics of the rules say they would have added millions in costs while yielding dubious energy savings. The rules would also do little to impact future global warming, critics charge.
Aside from increased appliance prices, critics argue that the promised energy savings don’t always materialize. DOE’s ceiling fan rule is expected to cost $4.4 billion, according to regulatory estimates. Even the plaintiffs suing Trump don’t have consistent estimates of benefits from the rules.
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