09/27/2017 - Regulatory Rollback

Energy Conservation Standards for Consumer Products

by Caitlin McCoy, Robin Just

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. If you’re a reporter and would like to speak with an expert on this rule, please email us.

Why it Matters

The DOE sets energy efficiency standards for many consumer products. Improved efficiency reduces the energy use, cost, and greenhouse gas emissions associated with appliances sold in the United States.

Current Status

Some efficiency standards finalized at the end of the Obama administration have effective dates in the future and are proceeding. Future public hearings and comment periods for efficiency standards will be posted here

July 11, 2019 Department of Energy releases a proposed interpretive rule that would require the Department to consider inefficient technologies in furnaces and water heaters a “feature” within the meaning of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. This would prevent the Department from setting an energy-saving standard that would eliminate inefficient furnaces in the future.

Sep. 5, 2019 Department of Energy publishes a final rule withdrawing the 2017 regulation that would have expanded energy efficiency standards to a wider range of light bulbs. 

Sep. 5, 2019 In response to a statutory requirement to evaluate energy conservation standards for certain light bulbs, DOE announces its proposed determination that the energy efficiency standards for incandescent bulbs do not need to be amended. The proposal is open for comments until Nov. 4, 2019 and comments may be submitted here

Oct. 10, 2019 The Ninth Circuit rules that DOE must publish 2016 efficiency standards for portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, air compressors, and commercial packaged boilers. The ruling is a victory for the 11 states, City of New York, and environmental groups who sued DOE, arguing that the now 2.5 year delay in publication was unwarranted.

Nov. 4, 2019 Environmental and consumer advocacy groups file a lawsuit against the Department of Energy for its changes to federal lightbulb efficiency standards. Nat. Res. Defense Council v. DOE, No. 19-03658 (2nd Cir.). A coalition of states led by New York and California file a similar lawsuit. State of New York v. DOE, No. 19-03652 (2nd Cir.).

History

Aug. 2016 DOE issues 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.

Dec. 2016 The Obama administration DOE posts final energy efficiency standards for uninterruptible power supplies, walk-in freezers, portable air conditioners, compressors, and commercial boilers. DOE then has 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 has failed to do so for each of these.

Jan. 6, 2017 DOE posts final energy efficiency standards for residential central air conditioners and heat pumps. DOE then has 45 days to publish a confirmation of effective date of these standards in the Federal Register, which would finalize them, but has failed to do so.

Jan. 19, 2017 DOE posts final energy efficiency standards for ceiling fans. DOE then has 45 days to publish a confirmation of effective date of these standards in the Federal Register, which would finalize them, but has failed to do so.

Jan. 19, 2017 DOE publishes a final rule defining Energy Conservation Standards for General Service Lamps, including incandescent light bulbs in the definition and requiring them to meet a higher efficiency standard alongside compact fluorescent and LED bulbs. To be effective January 1, 2020.

Jan. 19, 2017 DOE publishes a final rule defining Energy Conservation Standards for General Service Lamps, including changes to a variety of regulatory definitions and ending exemptions for certain specialty light bulbs. To be effective January 1, 2020.

Trump Era

Jan. 31, 2017 DOE publishes notice in the Federal Register that it is delaying the final ceiling fan standard effective date for 60 days  to review the rule. On the same day, DOE publishes notice that it is delaying the walk-in freezer standards effective date to March 21, 2017.

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

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

April 3, 2017 coalition of environmental groups notify DOE they will 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

June 13, 2017  Washington, California, and nine other states petition 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 files suit over these same standards on this day.

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

May 26, 2017 DOE announces it will finalize the standards and set compliance dates for residential central air conditioners and heat pumps.

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

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

Nov. 28, 2017 DOE issues 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 is held on January 9, 2018.The comment period for this is open until March 5, 2018.

Nov. 28, 2017 DOE issues 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.

Feb. 15, 2018 The US District Court for the Northern District of California rules 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.

Aug. 8, 2018 The Trump administration submits a proposed rule revising energy efficiency standards for light bulbs to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. The Obama administration adopted energy-use requirements for incandescent bulbs used in track and recessed lighting, bathroom vanities, and decorative fixtures like chandeliers. Incandescent light bulbs are less energy efficient than LED bulbs and last about one year compared with 10 years or longer for LED bulbs.

Feb. 6, 2019 Department of Energy proposes a plan to roll back two rules, finalized in January 2017 to take effect January 2020, that expand the types of lighting subject to higher efficiency levels, effectively requiring the use of compact fluorescent bulbs and LEDs rather than incandescent bulbs. One analysis from the Appliance Standards Awareness Project found these rules would save emissions equivalent to the emissions of more than 180 coal plants annually. DOE held a public meeting on February 28, 2019 on this proposal.

Feb. 11, 2019 The notice of proposed rulemaking on energy conservation standards for lighting is published in the Federal Register and open for comment until May 3, 2019. 

May 1, 2019 Department of Energy proposes a new process for energy efficiency testing of consumer products and some industrial equipment. Under the proposed system, the Department would automatically grant an interim testing waiver to any company that does not receive a response from the Department within 30 days to its proposal for a waiver from efficiency testing.

May 3, 2019 A coalition of 15 states, the District of Columbia, and New York City file comments opposing the proposed rulemaking to roll back the lighting efficiency standards.

May 10, 2019 Environmental organizations send a letter to the Department requesting a public hearing on the proposed energy efficiency testing waiver process. The Department of Energy denies this request on May 15, 2019.

May 27, 2019 Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signs a bill, AB54, into law to expand the types of bulbs required to meet efficiency rules by January 2020. Nevada is the fourth state, joining Vermont, California, and Washington, to adopt its own standards similar to regulations adopted under the Obama administration and proposed to be changed under the Trump administration. A similar bill is awaiting the governor’s signature in Colorado.

May 30, 2019 Colorado Governor Jared Polis signs HB19-1231 into law, setting water and energy efficiency standards for 16 products without federal requirements. Colorado’s law covers a range of appliances including light bulbs, portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, and air compressors. Colorado becomes the fifth state to adopt stringent efficiency standards for appliances to balance out federal rollbacks. 

June 11, 2019 Environmental organizations send another letter to the Department of Energy to appeal the Department’s denial of their request for a public hearing.

June 26, 2019 Hawaii Governor Ige signs a bill, HB 556, into law to adopt state appliance energy efficiency standards for products without federal requirements. Hawaii is the sixth state, joining Nevada, Vermont, California, Washington, and Colorado, to adopt its own efficiency standards. Similar state standards are under discussion in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C.

July 11, 2019 Department of Energy releases a proposed interpretive rule that would require the Department to consider inefficient technologies in furnaces and water heaters a “feature” within the meaning of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. This would prevent the Department from setting an energy-saving standard that would eliminate inefficient furnaces in the future. This interpretive rule was proposed in response to a rulemaking petition submitted by the American Gas Association and other industry groups in an attempt to overturn a March 12, 2015 proposed energy conservation standard for residential furnaces. This proposal is open for comment until September 9, 2019 and comments can be submitted here.

Sep. 5, 2019 Department of Energy publishes a final rule withdrawing the 2017 regulation that would have expanded energy efficiency standards to a wider range of light bulbs. 

Sep. 5, 2019 In response to a statutory requirement to evaluate energy conservation standards for certain light bulbs, DOE announces its proposed determination that the energy efficiency standards for incandescent bulbs do not need to be amended. The proposal is open for comments until November 4, 2019 and comments may be submitted here

Oct. 10, 2019 The Ninth Circuit rules that DOE must publish 2016 efficiency standards for portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, air compressors, and commercial packaged boilers. The ruling is a victory for the 11 states, City of New York, and environmental groups who sued DOE, arguing that the now 2.5 year delay in publication was unwarranted.

Oct. 16, 2019 The attorneys general of 12 states, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York submit comments criticizing DOE’s proposed rule to create a new product class for dishwashers that complete a cycle in less than an hour. If finalized, current energy efficiency standards would not apply to this new class of dishwashers. The comments allege that the proposal violates EPCA’s anti-backsliding provision and misapplies the statute’s provision on creating new product classes.

Nov. 4, 2019 Environmental and consumer advocacy groups file a lawsuit against the Department of Energy for its changes to federal lightbulb efficiency standards. Nat. Res. Defense Council v. DOE, No. 19-03658 (2nd Cir.). A coalition of states led by New York and California file a similar lawsuit. State of New York v. DOE, No. 19-03652 (2nd Cir.).

Nov. 13, 2019 The California Energy Commission votes to adopt stronger energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs in the state to keep the more recent, lax federal standards from going into effect in CA.